Military veterans were among the hundreds of mourners who packed out a Co Down church today for the funeral of murdered former UDR and Royal Irish soldier Pat McCormick.
There was standing room only at Strean Presbyterian Church in Newtownards as crowds of people gathered to bid a final emotional farewell to the father-of-four.
A lone piper played and a guard of honour was formed as his coffin – draped in the UDR flag – was carried out of the church, where he had been a caretaker for a number of years.
The body of Mr McCormick was recovered from a lake near Ballygowan last week after police had carried out extensive searches in recent weeks.
The 55-year-old was last seen alive in the Comber area on May 30.
Two people, a woman aged 26 and a man aged 21, appeared in court on July 12 charged in connection with his murder.
In a touching tribute during the service, Mr McCormick’s daughter Morgan described him as a “fun, loving, very kind and a caring person.”
Among the many veterans who attended the service was former UDR soldier Angela Jamison, who met Mr McCormick after she joined the Regiment in 1987.
“I knew Pat for 30 odd years, and in my eyes he was one of the best,” she told the News Letter after the service.
“A pure gentleman, a true friend who always would have listened, and a great soldier.
“Even if you hadn’t seen him for years and you ran into him, it would be like you had only seen him yesterday.”
Ms Jamison said she had held out hope that her friend would be found alive after he went missing.
“It was only when his body was found that I had to accept he was gone,” she added.
“His death has come as such a shock to everyone who knew him.
“It was amazing to see the turnout at the funeral. He was my wee buddy and he will be sorely missed.”
Ahead of the service, ex-Royal Irish soldier Anto Wickham, who served with Mr McCormick and described the former lance corporal as “one of the real characters” of the regiment with the “biggest, kindest heart”, urged other veterans to attend his funeral to give him a “true warrior’s send off”.
Dozens of people left tributes to the murdered veteran on social media.
Following the service, interment took place at Movilla Cemetery.