Tributes to Denbighshire soldier killed in Afghanistan

Image caption, L/Cpl Alan Cochran was proud to be a soldier, his family said

A 23-year-old soldier who was killed in Afghanistan had always wanted to join the armed forces, his former head teacher says.

L/Cpl Alan Cochran from St Asaph, Denbighshire, who was a member of the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, died during a gun battle with the Taliban in Helmand Province on Friday.

Ashley Jones, head of Mold Alun School, said everyone was shocked at the death of a "happy, popular and quiet young man who had many friends".

His family said they were "devastated".

L/Cpl Cochran enlisted in 2006 and had previously served in Northern Ireland and in Iraq.

He died along with Cpl Terry Webster, from Chester, in an exchange of fire with insurgent forces in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

"We all remember him as a happy, popular and quiet young man who had many friends and enjoyed school life," he said.

"In his final year he studied an engineering course in a link with a local college, but we knew that his real ambition was to join the armed forces.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time."

L/Cpl Cochran's mother Shirley Jane Cochran, and family said in a statement issued by the Ministry of Defence: "Alan was a tremendous son. He was proud to be a soldier and died doing a job he loved.

"We are devastated by the loss of Alan who was a loving son, grandson and brother.

"We are proud of the fact that Alan was prepared to do his duty helping the people of Afghanistan."

His fiancee, Claire Brookshaw, said: "He has been a great part of my life and always will be. Sadly missed but never forgotten."

Commanding Officer Lt Col Andrew Hadfield said L/Cpl Cochran had recently been promoted and had willingly taken responsibility for the lives of his fellow men.

He said: "A committed career soldier, Alan loved the Army and his friends within it, and was probably the most selfless of men, always looking out for others and helping them to give their best.

"His friends described him as having a heart of gold, being totally unselfish, and having the worst dress sense in the battalion."

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