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The ceremony that Massereene soldiers never got the chance to attend

Comrades stand amid massed floral tributes as they salute murdered Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey as their bodies were borne away from Massereene Barracks in March
Comrades stand amid massed floral tributes as they salute murdered Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey as their bodies were borne away from Massereene Barracks in March
Patrick's parents Mahmet and Geraldine, who will be attending tomorrow's ceremony
Cengiz Azimkar , one the two soldiers killed in the attack at Massareene Barracks
Mark Quinsey, one the two soldiers killed in the attack at Massareene Barracks

By Lesley Anne Henry

The bereaved families of two soldiers murdered by dissident republicans are due to make an emotive journey to the scene of the shooting for the first time tomorrow.

Relatives of Sappers Patrick Azimkar (21) and Mark Quinsey (23) are expected to attend a medals ceremony at Massereene Army barracks where they will be presented with the Elizabeth Cross as a national recognition of their loss.

It will mark the first time either grieving family has visited the Antrim base where the two young Sappers where gunned down as they collected pizzas from delivery men on March 7.

Last night Mark Quinsey’s sister, who will accompany her devastated parents Pamela and Bill on their difficult journey from Birmingham, spoke of her fear that the Real IRA killers could strike again.

Heartbroken Jaime Quinsey said: “I was worried about the security and that the RIRA would try again. A lot of people have mentioned that to me, but I have been told the Army will treat us like royalty in terms of the security.

“I did think about that a lot, but we have found the strength to go anyway.

“To be honest, I have tried to push all the bad thoughts to the back of my mind. I try not to think of what happened and that Mark is not here, but when I do I try to think that Mark would have been so proud to see us there. I am sure he will be looking down,” she said.

Comrades from 38 Engineer Regiment who have completed their six-month tour of duty in Helmand Province will take part in a special parade ahead of the ceremony.

The event, which the MoD insists is not a “homecoming”, will see the soldiers march from the Antrim Forum to Massereene where their operational medals will be distributed.

And while she feels honoured to attend Saturday’s event, Jaime fears seeing the soldiers return from war may only add to her distress.

“It’s going to be hard seeing something that I know my brother should have been part of.

“It’s not going to be nice. I am not looking forward to it but I am more worried about my mum and dad.

“My mum and dad have good days and bad days, to be honest. It’s not easy at all and I don’t think they will ever get over it.

“It makes me think about Mark and about how I would have been getting really excited to see him,” she added.

It is understood Patrick Azimkar’s brother James will accompany his parents when they fly from London to Northern Ireland.

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