Emotional day as relatives remember conflict victims
Relatives of Northern Ireland soldiers were among a congregation attending a memorial service in London for troops killed in the 13-year Afghanistan conflict.
Lagan Valley MLA Brenda Hale, whose husband Mark was killed in the conflict, was at the service in St Paul's Cathedral yesterday marking the official closure to combat operations in the country.
Capt Hale (42), from Bournemouth in Dorset, died in an explosion in Sangin, Helmand province, in August 2009, while helping his colleagues who were caught in a roadside blast.
The DUP MLA attended the service along with her daughter Tori. Speaking afterwards Tori said: "Today is an emotional and poignant day for the families like ours.
"We all have different journeys but are on the same road."
Mrs Hale said: "For me, the service was a true reflection about how we as a nation honour our war dead.
"As we stood outside and watched the parade and fly-past you know that their sacrifice will always be remembered.
"Afghanistan is scorched into the memory of many, and everyday will bring its challenges, but we keep going, because not to would mean they had died in vain."
Other local relatives present included Susan and Gordon Dalzell who lost their son David, and Rosemary and Leslie Day whose medic daughter Channing was also killed.
The service was followed by a military parade through the City of London. Simultaneous services were also held in Germany and Afghanistan, where Afghan president Ashraf Ghani paid tribute to the 453 UK troops who died.
Soldiers from Ulster who died on duty
David Dalzell (20)
Ranger Dalzell, from Bangor, Co Down, was on his first tour of Afghanistan when he was accidentally shot by a colleague on February 4, 2011.
Channing Day (25)
The combat medic, from Comber, Co Down, was shot by an Afghan policeman on October 24, 2012.
Mark Hale (42)
Captain Hale was killed on August 13, 2009 while trying to carry a wounded comrade to safety.
Aaron McCormick (22)
Ranger McCormick, from Macosquin, died when a booby-trap bomb exploded on November 14, 2010.
Stephen McKee (27)
Lance Corporal McKee was killed in a bomb blast in the Nad Ali district while serving with the Royal Irish Regiment on March 9, 2011.
Nigel Moffett (28)
The Belfast Lance Corporal from the Light Dragoons was killed on May 30, 2009 when his vehicle was blown up.
David Patton (38)
Captain Patton, from Aghadowey, died in a gun battle after a raid to capture four Taliban members on June 27, 2006.
Neal Turkington (26)
The Craigavon man was killed alongside two others by an Afghan soldier who fired a grenade into a command centre on July 13, 2010.
Stephen Walker (42)
The Royal Marine from Lisburn was killed on May 21, 2010 in an explosion while on patrol with the Afghan army.