Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

My war hero son has been betrayed

The mother of a Northern Ireland soldier killed clearing bombs in Afghanistan has accused the Army of snubbing her son.

Ranger Aaron McCormick (20), from Coleraine, died defusing an improvised explosive device (IED) in Helmand province last Remembrance Sunday.

Last night his devastated mother Margaret slammed the Ministry of Defence, claiming his sacrifice had been "ignored" and "forgotten about" in the most recent military honours list.

"Does paying the ultimate sacrifice not go above and beyond bravery?" she said. "How much more brave do you have to get?

"I have hundreds of papers, letters and books from the military top brass telling me how Aaron always insisted on being the first man out the gate and how he had always volunteered to be at the front of the patrol so he could keep the place safe. Surely that deserves some recognition? He had one of the hardest jobs in Afghanistan.

"The Royal Irish motto is 'Faugh a Ballagh' which means 'clear the way', and Aaron really lived up to the mark. He did clear the way. But what thanks has he got?"

In a heart-wrenching interview Mrs McCormick, whose house is filled with framed photographs of her son, also revealed her anger after military officials tried to stop her sending welfare parcels to frontline troops.

"A captain came on and told me not to be sending parcels because the soldiers weren't cold or hungry," she added. "I just told him that if my son was writing to me saying he was cold and hungry, then there were bound to be other soldiers feeling the same. He actually apologised to me after Aaron died, but it was a bit late then."

The heartbroken mother also revealed how devastated family members were forced to stand in freezing December weather at the gate of Belfast International Airport when her son's body was flown back to Northern Ireland.

"When Aaron's body was flown back into Belfast International Airport we, as a family, were not allowed to go and see his body being taken off the plane. My husband had to stand for an hour outside the gate in the snow watching while they brought Aaron's body. There needs to be something done about that. They get recognition in England but not in Northern Ireland, which is their home.

"At the time of Aaron's funeral we had all the major politicians with us asking if they could help. Well, it's time to call in those favours."

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