Family farewells at repatriation ceremony for Corporal David O’Connor and Corporal Channing Day
The tearful families of a Royal Marine killed in Afghanistan and the female medic who died alongside him gathered for an emotional ceremony to repatriate their bodies yesterday.
Corporal David O’Connor, of Taunton-based 40 Commando, died of his wounds after being injured on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province last Wednesday.
He was with Corporal Channing Day, who served with the 3 Medical Regiment, and who was the third female member of the armed forces to be killed in Afghanistan.
Their bodies were yesterday flown into RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, where the Union flag-draped coffins were carried from the plane with full military honours.
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Following private services, the two families arrived at the memorial garden in nearby Carterton where they stood in silence along with more than 200 friends and well-wishers who fell quiet as a bell began to toll.
Royal British Legion standard-bearers slowly lowered their flags as family members started to sob when they caught sight of the cortege.
The hearses paused briefly next to a Union flag hung at half mast to allow family members and friends to step forward and place flowers on top of the cars.
As the cars pulled away there was a round of applause by members of the public who came to pay their respects.
Cpl O’Connor, 27, and Cpl Day, 25, were overseeing the training of Afghan local police when their patrol came under fire near the village of Char Kutsa. They were fatally injured during the firefight.
An initial review into their deaths has revealed the killings were not caused by “friendly fire”.
Investigations are continuing into the incident, the MoD said.
Cpl O’Connor, who hailed from Hampshire, was deployed to Afghanistan at the end of September as a section commander in the acting rank of corporal.
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.”
Lieutenant Colonel Matt Jackson, commanding officer, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said Cpl O’Connor “was one of the best”.
He served with Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, as part of Transition Support Unit Nahr-e Saraj, and was based in Patrol Base One in the southern part of Nahr-e-Saraj District.