Northern Ireland

Afghanistan death: Tributes for Comber woman Channing Day

Channing Day was serving with 3 Medical Regiment when she was killed
Image caption Channing Day was serving with 3 Medical Regiment when she was killed

Tributes have been paid to the County Down soldier killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Twenty-five-year-old medic Channing Day died alongside a Royal Marine colleague, Corporal David O'Connor, in Helmand province.

Kim Funston coached Ms Day at Northland Raiders football team in Newtownards.

"Anybody who ever met her, she did make a lasting impression, she was bubbly, happy, with that big infectious smile," she said.

Ms Funston said she was not surprised when Channing had joined the Army.

"It was something that she'd wanted to do and the day that she found out that she had been accepted into the Army, or the day after, she come to the pitch with that smile, so excited and it was something she'd obviously thought long and hard about," she said.

"Any loss is sad but somebody of that age that had so much to give, it's just tragic."

In a statement, Channing's family said she had played football for Northern Ireland at youth level, was the NI gymnastics pairs champion, played ice hockey and had gained her qualification as a ski instructor through the Army.

"Channing was bubbly, sporty, beautiful and lived her life for the Army," they said.

"She has died doing what she lived for and in the life that she loved.

"A girl who lived her life to the full without ever giving up on her dreams.

"She was a fabulous daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin, niece and friend. She will be so sadly missed by all."

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Media captionNorthern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson: "It is devastating for the family involved"

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also expressed his condolences to the Day family.

Mr McGuinness said that while he was opposed to the war he had a great deal of sympathy for the family.

Speaking on the BBC programme The View, Mr McGuinness said: "I would like to take this opportunity now to express my condolences to the family of the young woman who lost her life.

"I say that as someone who has been on the record as being totally opposed to the war in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

"But we shouldn't, at a time like this, ignore the reality that in Comber there are parents, brothers and sisters who are grieving and obviously I do sympathise with them in their loss."

Corporal Day, a member of 3 Medical Regiment, died from injuries after being attacked while on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

Corporal Day's family said she "was bubbly, sporty, beautiful and lived her life for the Army".

Paul Maxwell, principal of Strangford, said she had always been very good at sport and wanted a career in the army.

"I was really shocked. She left school nine years ago, but nine years is a very short time in the life of our school," he said.

"And because we are a school of 500 plus, every pupil is clear to us and I can remember Channing as if it were yesterday and therefore it becomes more poignant because somebody that we remember as being young, and is still young, is suddenly killed in such a tragic way.

"She was a great girl, she was really bubbly, bright, she was outgoing, enthusiastic, she had lots of friends she was just one of those genuinely really nice youngsters, she was extremely good at sport."

Also killed

The Ministry of Defence said Corporal Day and Royal Marine Corporal David O'Connor were fatally injured during an exchange of gunfire with an Afghan who is believed to have been a policeman, but who was not in uniform.

The Afghan, who had not been accompanying the patrol, was also killed.

The MoD said the UK patrol was "not working with any Afghan partners at the time".

"At this stage we do not know what initiated the exchange of gunfire and an investigation is ongoing," a spokesperson said.

A total of 435 British military personnel have been killed in Afghanistan since operations started in 2001.

Lieutenant Colonel Phillip de Rouffignac, Commanding Officer, 3 Medical Regiment said the County Down woman was "hugely popular with her friends in Preston, Catterick and in Afghanistan".

"Corporal Channing Day made the most of everything and had lived a lifetime in a short time.

"An Army footballer, she was a real team player in every sense. Corporal Day will be sorely missed, and the thoughts of all our regiment are with her family and friends at this difficult time."

First Minister Peter Robinson said: "The incredible bravery displayed by our armed forces is immense and the risk they take on a daily basis can never be underestimated.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and colleagues who continue to give service to their country."

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said he had learned of the death with great "regret and much sadness".

"It is a reminder of the incredible bravery displayed by our armed forces as they risk their lives for our freedom," he said.

Speaking as a former coach to Channing and as the present chair of Gymnastics Northern Ireland, Shireen Moore said Channing was "extremely gutsy" and had a real "can do" approach to all the challenges she faced.

"Her dedication and commitment were second to none and I was not in the slightest bit surprised that she chose the career path that she did," she said.

"Her loss will be felt widely but, on behalf of the gymnastics community in Northern Ireland, I would wish to extend genuinely heartfelt sympathies to Channing's family at this most difficult of times. "

Corporal Day is survived by her parents, Leslie and Rosemary Day, her sisters, Lauren and Laken, and brother Aaron.

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