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Comrades of Massereene soldiers head back to base

By Lesley-Anne Henry

Published 23/09/2009

Comrades of two soldiers shot dead by dissident republicans are expected to make an emotional return to Massereene Army barracks this week.

Troops from 38 Engineer Regiment who were deployed hours after Sappers Mark Quinsey (23) and Patrick Azimkar (21) were gunned down at the gates of the Co Antrim base will be among the first soldiers returning from a six-month tour of Afghanistan.

Although a final arrival date has yet to be confirmed the MoD has said the soldiers would be back by the end of the month.

While in Afghanistan the regiment lost Sapper Jordan Rossi in an explosion near the town of Sangin in Helmand Province in May. And Captain Daniel Shepherd was killed while commanding an improvised explosive device disposal (IEDD) team in the Nad-e-Ali district of Helmand in July.

During their time in Afghanistan the Engineers have constructed 13 bridges and 58 new bases.

They also formed an integral part of Operation Panther’s Claw — a military initiative to clear parts of central Helmand ahead of the Afghan elections in August.

The families of Sappers Quinsey and Azimkar are expected to receive invites to next month’s medals parade in Antrim.

The event, which the MoD has insisted is not a “homecoming”, will see the soldiers make their way from the Antrim Forum to Massereene Army base where operational medals will be distributed.

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