PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: THE Irish rugby international sister of Army medic Channing Day said yesterday: We are so pround of her.
Here Lauren Day is pictured with her baby sister Channing, sharing a drink at a rugby match.
Today, a book of condolence was opened in St Mary’s Church of Ireland church in Channing’s home town of Comber, Co Down.
It is open to the public to sign from 9 am to 8pm.
Lauren, a secondary school teacher in Wigan, England, was left broken-heart when told the shocking news that her 25-year-old sister was killed in Afghanistan.
It has left Lauren, her mum Rosemary and dad Leslie devastated that the baby of the family was cruelly taken from them doing the job she loved best.
“If there was one thing she knew growing up it was she wanted to be a soldier, proven by the way she’d march around the living room,” said Lauren, who also plays for Ulster.
“She loved what she did and we are so proud of her.
“Channing grew up into the bravest, beautiful, determined woman. she has done more in her 25 years than most women her age and we are so very proud of everything she has achieved.”
In a statement, released by the Ministry of Defence on behalf of the family, Lauren said that they were an extremely close family and that Channing’s death had “hit them hard”.
“Channing and mummy were not only mother daughter but they were best friends who told each other everything,” she added.
“She was a best friend to us all. Each of our lives will always be a special part of the other.”
Earlier, the Ministry of Defence said Channing and a Royal Marine commando may have been shot by someone in an Afghan uniform.
The MoD said that following an investigation they had rule out the possibility that the pair had been killed by British forces.
The theory follows an investigation into the deaths Cpl David O’Connor, 27, of 40 Commando, and Cpl Channing Day, 25, of 3 Medical Regiment, from Comber, Co Down.
They were fatally injured on Wednesday in a firefight while on patrol in Helmand province.
They came under fire near the village of Char Kutsa, in the Nahr-e Saraj district.
An Afghan man is also reported to have died in the incident.
The MoD says a preliminary investigation has refuted Afghan police claims that the pair were shot by their own comrades.
It says an initial review at the scene, carried out by Nato specialists and Afghan government representatives, concluded the shooting was not a “friendly fire” incident involving British forces.
Instead the shooting is said to have been was caused by what the MoD calls “a third party or parties whose identities have yet to be established but who are not UK personnel”.
Afghan officials had said that the British patrol had shot dead an off-duty Afghan policeman who was not in uniform but was carrying a weapon as he washed in a stream – mistaking him for an insurgent.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the deaths were “a terrible tragedy in Afghanistan”.
He went on: “The circumstances are not entirely clear, there is an investigation ongoing. We know there were three people dead, one of them wearing civilian clothes.
“It is not absolutely clear as yet exactly what did happen and that investigation will continue until we find out exactly what happened.”
Asked if it was another so-called green on blue attack – where Afghans turn on their Isaf partners – Mr Hammond said: “There is a possibility that that is what has happened but it is not clear at this stage who the shooter actually was.”
The MoD says, “Further investigation into the involvement or otherwise of the dead Afghan male is ongoing.”
It adds that its analysis is likely to take some time while forensic and other tests are carried out.
A parallel Royal Military Police investigation is also being conducted.
Cpl O’Connor was deployed to Afghanistan at the end of September as a section commander in the acting rank of corporal.
Cpl Day, who joined the Army in 2005 and was deployed to Afghanistan on 2 October, was the third British female to have died while serving in Afghanistan since 2001.
A total of 435 British military personnel have been killed in Afghanistan since operations started in 2001.
Friends said Channing Day had always wanted to join the British Army. She was a former cadet and joined 3 Medic when she turned turned 18.
She recently wrote in her Facebook page: “In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were scared to have and the decisions we waited to long to make.
“There comes a time in your life when you realise who matters, who doesn’t, who never did and who always will.’’
Her family are now awaiting news of when Channing’s remains will be repatriated from the theatre of operations in Afghanistan to England beforer her family journey to the family home in Comber.
The town will come a standstill on the of her funeral as her cortege snakes past it war memorial in the centre of the square.