AFTER almost a week of heartache and agony, the family of soldier medic Channing Day finally welcomed her home to UK soil with tears in their eyes.
The remains of girl soldier Channing Day were flown back this afternoon to England on an RAF Hercules plane along with the Royal Marine commando who died alongside her in Afghanistan.
Cpl Day, from Comber, Co Down, and Cpl David O’Connor, from Havant in Hampshire, died in a gun battle last Wednesday while on patrol.
Their union flag draped coffins touched down this afternoon at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire as their sorrowful families looked on.
Six colleagues of 3 Medic shouldered Channing’s coffin from the Hercules transporter and into a private service on the base.
An initial MoD review has revealed their deaths were not caused by “friendly fire”.
Private ceremonies for their families were held on the air base just after 2.30pm before the cortege leaves for the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
Cpl Day’s parents Leslie and Rosemary hoped to bring their all-round action girl daughter home to Comber, Co Down within days for a burial.
- The town is expected to come to a standstill for her funeral, with hundreds and hundreds of people expected to line the streets to bid a tearful farewell.
Today’s cortege was escorted past the memorial garden in Carterton, where the union jack will be hung at half-mast and members of the public are expected to gather.
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 in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province.
They were fatally injured during the firefight. An Afghan man thought to be an off-duty policeman also died in the incident.
The MoD has said investigations into their deaths are continuing.
Cpl Day 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 providing medical support to 40 Commando Royal Marines.
Lt Col 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, serving with Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines.
He lived with his mother Rosemary in Havant, Hampshire. He leaves behind his mother, father Roy, known as George, and brother Phil.
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.”
Lt Col Matt Jackson, commanding officer, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said Cpl O’Connor “was one of the best”.
The number of members of UK forces to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001 now stands at 435.