Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Channing Day and David O'Connor - tears flow for fallen soldiers at Brize Norton

The repatriation ceremony at RAF Brize Norton of Corporal Channing Day from 3 Medical Regiment and Corporal David O'Connor from 40 Commando Royal Marines
The repatriation ceremony at RAF Brize Norton of Corporal Channing Day from 3 Medical Regiment and Corporal David O'Connor from 40 Commando Royal Marines
Channing Day

The grieving Northern Irelandl family of the third British servicewoman to be killed in Afghanistan stood alongside the loved ones of a Royal Marine as their bodies were repatriated to the UK.

Corporal Channing Day, who served with the 3 Medical Regiment, died alongside Corporal David O'Connor, of 40 Commando, after being injured on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province on Wednesday.

Kevin Baines, who served with Cpl Day in Iraq and Germany, supported her friends as they wept at the roadside while watching the cortege of hearses approach them.

He said afterwards that Cpl Day was a "really good girl" who could always put a smile on your face.

The bodies of Cpl Day and Cpl O'Connor were earlier flown into RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, where the Union flag-draped coffins were carried from the plane with full military honours.

Following private services, the two families arrived at the memorial garden in Carterton where they stood in silence along with more than 200 friends and well-wishers who fell quiet as a bell began to toll.

Royal British Legion standard-bearers slowly lowered their flags as family members started to sob when they caught sight of the cortege.

The hearses paused briefly next to a Union flag hung at half mast to allow family members and friends to step forward and place flowers on top of the cars.

Members of Cpl Day's family placed their hands against the glass and wept with disbelief written on their faces. Another kissed the glass of the window several times.

As the cars pulled away there was a round of applause by members of the public who came to pay their respects.

Mr Baines, a former private in the Army, said of Cpl Day: "I'll just remember her smile and that, and the way she would always put a smile on your face even when things were bad.

"She wasn't afraid to muck in, she'd play football, she was hard working, diligent, just all round, she was a really good girl.

"It's her smile I'll remember the most, I'll never forget that, always."

Cpl Day, 25, and Cpl O'Connor, 27, were overseeing the training of Afghan local police when their patrol came under fire near the village of Char Kutsa. They were fatally injured during the firefight.

An initial review into their deaths has revealed the killings were not caused by "friendly fire". Investigations are continuing, the MoD said.

Cpl Day was born in Swindon, Wiltshire, and grew up in Newtownards, Co Down, before joining the Army in 2005.

She is survived by her parents Leslie and Rosemary Day, her sisters Lauren and Laken, and brother Aaron.

In a statement her family said: "Channing was bubbly, sporty, beautiful and lived her life for the Army. She has died doing what she lived for and in the life that she loved."

The medic, who was deployed to Afghanistan earlier this month, was based at Patrol Base One in the Nahr-e Saraj district, where she provided medical support to 40 Commando Royal Marines.

Lieutenant Colonel Phillip de Rouffignac, commanding officer, 3 Medical Regiment, said she was a "star for the future".

Royal Marine Cpl O'Connor was deployed to Afghanistan at the end of September as a section commander in the acting rank of corporal.

He lived with his mother Rosemary in Havant, Hampshire. He leaves behind his mother, brother Phil and father Roy, known as George.

A statement released by his family said: "David's family and friends are greatly saddened by his loss and hope to be left to grieve privately."

Lieutenant Colonel Matt Jackson, commanding officer, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said Cpl O'Connor "was one of the best".

He served with Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, as part of Transition Support Unit Nahr-e Saraj, and was based in Patrol Base One in the southern part of Nahr-e-Saraj District.

The number of members of UK forces to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001 now stands at 435.

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