THE family of the Co Down Army medic killed in Afghanistan have paid tribute to their “bubbly and beautiful” daughter who never gave up on her dreams.
Channing Day from Comber was killed alongside a Royal Marine in a gun battle with a rogue member of the Afghan police.
The 25-year-old was a keen sportswoman, playing football for the Northern Ireland ladies’ team as well as being a qualified ski instructor.
Corporal Day died on Wednesday following the incident in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province.
A statement released by her family through the Ministry of Defence (MoD) last night 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.
“She will be remembered by all who knew her as a wonderful girl who never stopped smiling and who had an infectious laugh.
Channing played football for Northern Ireland as well as ice hockey and also gained her qualification as a ski instructor through the Army. She was also the Northern Ireland Gymnastics Pairs Champion.
The statement concluded: “A girl who lived her life to the full without ever giving up on her dreams.”
The Royal Marine who died alongside Channing was Corporal David O’Connor of 40 Commando.
Although born in Swindon, Channing grew up in Comber and dreamt of joining the Army from an early age and signed up when only 18 years old.
Following basic training she qualified as a specialist Combat Medical Technician and, despite her young age, had already completed previous tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Channing’s commanding officer, Major Paul Sandle of 3 Medical Regiment, described the good-natured medic as “never one to shy away from a challenge”.
First Minister Peter Robinson said the “bravery displayed by our armed forces can never be underestimated”.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and colleagues who continue to give service to their country,” he added.
The two soldiers were on patrol when they were gunned down in the attack which was understood to have been claimed by the Taliban.
An MoD spokesman has confirmed that the Afghan man who also died “is believed to be a member of the Afghan Uniformed Police but who was not wearing uniform at the time”.
He added: “The UK patrol were not working with any Afghan partners at the time.”
The spokesman said an investigation is ongoing into what initiated the exchange of gunfire but the situation “remains unclear”.
Their deaths take the total number of UK service members to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001 to 435.
Full story in Friday’s News Letter