The parents of an Army medic shot in Afghanistan said today they hoped she would never be forgotten.
Leslie and Rosemary Day, whose daughter Corporal Channing Day was killed during a Taliban attack in October, also said they had been heartened by the messages of support from across the world.
Mrs Day said: “We were amazed by it. We could not believe the support. It does bring some comfort to think that so many people have taken the time to think about Channing and about our family.”
The couple were speaking as five books of condolence signed by thousands of people were handed over by their local council in Co Down.
Twenty-five-year-old Cpl Day, who served with 3 Medical Regiment, was the third British servicewoman to be killed since the conflict in Afghanistan began more than a decade ago.
She was shot dead in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province just weeks into her second tour of duty. She died alongside 27-year-old Corporal David O’Connor, of 40 Commando.
They were overseeing the training of Afghan local police when their patrol came under attack from Taliban insurgents near the village of Char Kutsa.
An initial Ministry of Defence review into their deaths revealed the killings were not caused by friendly fire.
Mrs Day said her daughter’s sole ambition had been to become a soldier.
“From when Channing was no age she wanted to be a soldier,” she added. “As soon as Channing could walk and talk she said she wanted to be in the Army. She marched round the living room; she used to put her dad’s beret on when he came home from work; she saluted; and she pestered Army Cadets when she was about eight years of age even though you have to be 13 to join.”
Cpl Day was born in Swindon, Wiltshire, and grew up in Co Down. She joined the Army in 2005 and had completed tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Her parents said despite the risks they never tried to dissuade her from pursuing a military career.
Leslie Day, a former soldier, claimed she would not have wanted to shirk her duty.
He said: “It was a job that she wanted to do and you couldn’t stop her from doing it. And we wouldn’t blame her either. She wanted to go to Afghanistan. All she wanted to do was be a soldier and a medic.”
When she returned home to Comber, Co Down, Cpl Day did her best to protect her family from the realities of war and military life.
Her mother said: “She didn’t really talk a lot about her work. There were a couple of incidents I have since found out about from previous tours. But she really didn’t disclose a lot, in-depth about what was happening in Afghanistan.”
Despite her job as a soldier Cpl Day was described as a girlie girl who loved to dance and shop.
And, even though she had her own home, she always liked to return to her parents’ house to sleep.
Mrs Day said: “She always just wanted to come back to us at night. She had her house, but our house was home.”
At the time of her funeral last month Comber came to a standstill. Hundreds of people lined the streets and senior politicians including Northern Ireland’s First Minister listened as the young soldier’s family paid moving tributes.
Mrs Day said receiving news of the tragedy had taken weeks to sink in.
She said: “It is the worst news you could ever receive. It took quite a few weeks for it to sink in. Because Channing was stationed in England I hadn’t seen her for a month. Part of your mind wants to keep thinking that she is still away working. But you just become numb. Nothing seems real or right. You just keep asking yourself why.
“Channing was a very vibrant, bubbly person who just loved life.
“She was just Channing - a great wee girl. We will never forget her and we hope others won’t either.”