Family say goodbye to army medic

The heartbroken brother of an Army medic gunned down on patrol in Afghanistan kissed her Union flag draped coffin as he lifted it on to his shoulder today.

Aaron Day closed his tear-filled eyes and drew a deep intake of breath before he helped his sister, Corporal Channing Day on her final journey.

Hundreds had lined the streets of Comber - a small town in the lush rolling hills of Co Down a world away from the dust and danger of the desert warzone where the 25-year-old soldier lost her life.

Cpl Day was the third British servicewoman to be killed in Afghanistan since military operations began in 2001.

Earlier, her sister Lauren had choked back tears as she told mourners attending her funeral service of the close bond between the four siblings.

 

She said the family would draw strength from her sister’s courage and take comfort in the knowledge they now had a guardian angel.

“We will get through this all if we continue to look out for each other knowing that we have a diamond in the sky,” she said.

Army chaplain, Albert Jackson, who led the funeral service at First Comber Presbyterian Church spoke of a young woman who, despite her job, had all the usual girlie tastes.

The colour pink was her favourite; she loved antiques; had a passion for shopping and just loved to talk, he told the crowds.

“She was small in stature but had a huge personality - bubbly, enthusiastic and wouldn’t take no for answer,” said Padre Jackson.

“The word impossible did not come into her vocabulary because all things were possible and achievable and she certainly set out to do that. She had that infectious smile that would lighten up even the gloomiest of days. She was truly unique.”

Cpl Day had initially hoped to join the Royal Engineers but was turned down on account of her height. Having missed out because she was just two inches too short, mourners heard how she turned her attention to the Army Medical Corps - a role which regularly took her into the danger zone in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Padre Jackson added: “Channing’s passion in life from an early age was to be a soldier. That was her goal. She wanted to be one of the best. She wanted to be the best. And, so she joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and became a combat medic.

“That meant that Channing was out on the ground with the lads. She was one of them. She would face all the difficulties and hardships that the guys would encounter. But her presence there made the guys feel somewhat assured. She instilled a confidence that no matter what would happen she would be there to help them.

“I salute her courage, that determination and that devotion.”

In two days time the same crowds will gather at Comber’s war memorial to honour the dead of two World Wars.

But, today businesses closed and the entire community paused to remember another young life tragically cut short in a foreign conflict that is still raging.

The whole town came to a standstill as the hearse, drawn by two jet black horses made its way from the church to the cemetery.

The sombre procession paused for a minute’s silence outside the Channing family home close to the town centre.

Veterans with poppies pinned alongside their shiny service medals stood shoulder to shoulder with serving soldiers and members of the Royal British Legion who lowered flags as the cortege passed in silence.

Walking behind the hearse and clutching each other’s hands were Cpl Day’s mother Rosemary, father Leslie and two sisters Lauren and Laken - who had brightened their funeral blacks with flashes of pink in tribute to their sister’s favourite colour - as well as her brother Aaron.

Cpl Day was buried with full military honours.

At the graveside Mrs Day buried her face into her scarf and gripped tightly on to her husband and son as they watched her daughter’s army colleagues lower the coffin into the ground.

Momentarily, the sun glimpsed out of the thick blanket of grey cloud.

A volley of shots was fired and a lone bugler played the Last Post.

Speaking after the funeral, Major Kevin Smith, Officer Commanding 3 Medical Regiment described Cpl Day as the ultimate professional.

He said: “Channing was an exemplar of a professional soldier; universally respected for her diligence, her willingness to put herself in harms way and her total professionalism.”
 

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