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REPATRIATION: Our pride for fallen heroes
THE father of a fallen serviceman from RAF Brize Norton spoke of his pride for his adventurous and determined son.
Corporal Brent McCarthy was killed alongside Lance Corporal Lee Davies while they were training and mentoring Afghan police officers. They were shot while attending a meeting at a police headquarters in Helmand province.
Cpl McCarthy, 25, had been based at RAF Brize Norton since 2009 and hundreds of his friends and family paid their respects at yesterday’s repatriation.
His father John said: “Of all the dads in the world he could have chosen, I am really proud he chose me.
“Brent was a wonderful young man who had a fantastic sense of humour and lots of determination.
“He loved adventure and travel and thought nothing of backpacking in Thailand and sleeping in the jungle.
“He always wanted to have some sort of adventure and that is why he joined the RAF.”
About 1,500 people were at the memorial garden on the edge of Carterton yesterday for the repatriation of his son and L Cpl Davies.
Mr McCarthy, 57, from Telford, said: “It helps us that so many other people are recognising Brent in this way. I am so proud of my son for having that effect on so many people. It is just overwhelming.”
Cpl McCarthy was well known throughout RAF Brize Norton and Carterton and played hockey with the Brize Norton Wildcats and drums in a Carterton band.
Wildcats treasurer Benjamin Lowe said: “Brent was just a genuinely great guy. He always had a smile on his face and he was always the first on the pitch.”
Cpl McCarthy had made the RAF under 23 team and Mr Lowe said he had expected his friend to make the full service squad in the future.
Mr Lowe said: “Personally, I am devastated. I had known him for over five years and he was a very good friend.
“But, as you can see by the numbers here, Brent was a top guy and this is the best way we can pay respects and tributes to him.”
Nikki Petherick, 21, of Carterton, played guitar and sang alongside Cpl McCarthy in their band, 47 Seconds.
She said: “He was such a nice person and he got on with everyone. He was really happy all the time and he would do anything for anyone.”
But she said he was also a joker and would regularly try to put off the other band members by playing the cowbell on his drum kit at inappropriate times.
Bass player Rob Andrews, 21, of Carterton, said: “He was just really fun and completely full of life. There was no getting him down.
“He did so much stuff and trying to fit in band practice around his schedule was a nightmare.”
Cpl Alfie Johnson and Cpl Ben Vaughan-James both lived with Cpl McCarthy when he first joined RAF Brize Norton in 2009 after completing training.
Cpl Johnson said: “Brent was an absolute top lad.
“We both played in defence together in the RAF hockey team, so he was on my right-hand side all the time and we always used to give each other stick.
“He had so many different friends everywhere and he will not be forgotten.”
Cpl Vaughan-James said: “He was a brilliant lad. He was always centre of attention and always wanted to be there when anything happened.
“It feels absolutely horrendous to be here for this reason.”
Community’s tribute to man who made ultimate sacrifice Carterton residents turned out to pay their respects for one of their own at yesterday’s repatriation.
Corporal Brent McCarthy, an RAF policeman based at RAF Brize Norton, was killed alongside Lance Corporal Lee Davies, from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, on Saturday.
Carterton and Brize Norton are a close-knit community and about 1,500 people turned out at the memorial garden on the edge of Carterton yesterday to pay their respects, many of them coming from the town.
Jason Haines, 39, of Carterton, said: “I was brought up with Air Force children and civilian children and we were all the same.
“Everyone here is something to do with the forces. Their friends or parents are in the forces or they are a retired serviceman and there is a close link between us.
“I see the aircraft go out and I hope they will never come back like this, but when they do we have got to turn out and support them because they have given their all for our country.”
His mother, Ann Haines, 66, of Carterton, said: “We are here to show the rest of the country that Carterton cares.
“We are all together, the RAF and Carterton, that is how we view the area.”
Retired Flight Lieutenant Andrew Greer, 54, of Carterton, said: “It is more poignant when someone local has been killed in action. Turning out is a very small sacrifice to make for someone that has made the ultimate one.”
John Roberts, 28, of Carterton, said: “I am here because it is one of the lads from the local area and, for me, that makes it more poignant.
“I am here for the family, the servicemen and the guys that are still out there. We are showing the nation that we are still behind them.”
But Carterton was not the only community grieving yesterday – the small town of Cardigan in Wales was mourning the loss of L Cpl Davies. Standard bearer Emma Rogers, from Cardigan Royal British Legion, said: “It is heartbreaking because it is such a small town. I know the family and the mother.
“It is the second time we have had to come to something like this and I hoped never to be here again. It is just tragic but we will always remember him.”
L Cpl Davies joined the Welsh Guard in April 2010 and rose quickly through the ranks to become Lance Corporal in December 2011.
Lieutenant Colonel Dino Bossi, commanding officer of 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said: “To have made such a profound impact so early in his army career speaks volumes about the quality of the man we have lost.”