Bodies of murdered soldiers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar flown home
The bodies of the two soldiers shot dead in Antrim last weekend will be flown back home to England today.
Their coffins will be carried past ranks of troops at Massereene Barracks for a final salute ahead of departure.
British soldiers Mark Quinsey (23) and Patrick Azimkar (21) were gunned down by the Real IRA and died in a hail of 60 bullets as they were taking delivery of a pizza at the Army base on Saturday night.
Friends and family of both young men yesterday visited the scene of the shootings accompanied by senior personnel from 38 Engineer Regiment.
Both the dead soldiers belonged to 25 Field Squadron of 38 Engineer Regiment, and were just hours from being deployed to Afghanistan when the attack took place.
In a poignant letter left at the scene, sapper Azimkar’s girlfriend paid tribute to her “best friend”, her “soulmate” and her “hero”.
“Patrick, my brave soldier,” it read. “This still doesn't feel real and I can't imagine it ever will. You have been in my life for so long and I always imagined you would be forever.
“What we had was truly special and no-one can ever take that away from me.
“Never have I met someone as wonderful as you. This really doesn't seem real. It can't be.
“You're my best friend, my soulmate. I want you to come back, wrap your strong arms around me and kiss me.
“My hero, my angel, my man.”
Meanwhile, the funeral of Constable Stephen Carroll will take place tomorrow in Co Down.
The 48-year-old was killed by the Continuity IRA in another gun attack just 48 hours after the soldiers were murdered.
The father-of-one and grandfather — who is the first PSNI officer to be murdered by terrorists — was shot in the head as he was getting out of his police car on Monday.
There were emotional scenes last night as the officer’s widow Kate watched as a police escort brought her husband’s body back to their Banbridge home.