John King Dead: Britain's First Repatriation Of 2012 For Soldier, 19, Killed In Afghanistan

First Repatriation Of 2012 As Body Of Soldier, 19, Is Flown Back From Afghanistan

More than 300 people gathered in the dark tonight to pay their respects to a soldier killed in Afghanistan at the first repatriation of the year.

Family and friends of Private John King, from 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, wept as they watched the cortege pass by.

The soldier was killed in a blast in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province on 30 December.

The body of the 19-year-old was flown to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire earlier today.

Following a private ceremony held for his family at the air base, the cortege left via the Britannia Gate on its way to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

The hearse was escorted at walking pace as it approached the memorial garden in Carterton, past Royal British Legion Standards and where his family had gathered.

As Pte King's family stood next to the Union Flag, hung at half-mast, they clutched flowers which they placed on top of the hearse.

They were joined by around 300 people, including members of the public and members of the Royal British Legion, who came to pay their respects.

Pte King leaves behind his mother Karen, father Barry, brothers Ian and Stephen, and girlfriend Kelly.

His family said he was a "proud soldier" who died doing the job he adored.

Pte King, from Darlington, County Durham, joined the Army in 2009 and deployed to Afghanistan in October.

The Ministry of Defence said he was taking part in a partnered foot patrol with Afghan national security forces to increase security around the village of Llara Kalay when he was killed. He was caught in the blast from an improvised explosive device.

In a statement, his family said: "John was a tremendous son, brother and boyfriend. He was a devoted grandson, a loving family member, and a proud soldier who died doing a job he adored.

"He will be sadly missed by all his family, friends, and loyal German Shepherd dog Rex."

Lieutenant Colonel Dan Bradbury, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, added: "Private King had been part of the 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment for a little over 18 months - but one of the busiest 18 months in the Battalion's recent history.

"From early on he was able to fit in quickly through a combination of hard work, grit, a willingness to endure difficult conditions and an irrepressible sense of humour.

"Always the first to volunteer for anything, he was one of B Company's characters - someone who could be found at the front at work or play, and was hugely popular as a result.

"His cheeky smile - no matter what we were doing - is the thing we will miss most of all."

A total of 395 British troops have died since the start of operations in Afghanistan in 2001 after a soldier from 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, who was wounded in an explosion in Afghanistan in June 2010, died in hospital in Birmingham on 2 January.


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