TEN years after the death of Comber soldier Channing Day in Afghanistan, her family have said they ‘miss her terribly’, but new generations have helped them cope. Channing, a corporal in 3 Medical Regiment, died alongside Royal Marine corporal David O’Connor in Helmand province on October 24, 2012.
The two soldiers were on their way to train local police in first aid when they were killed. On Monday, the tenth anniversary of her death, one of Channing’s former army colleagues will visit her home town of Comber to lay a wreath on the young woman’s grave.
Speaking this week before the tenth anniversary, Channing’s mother Rosemary said the first six years ‘went by in a blur’ as the family tried to move on after the loss of their daughter and sister. However, she said the birth of a first grandchild four years ago brought a ‘new lease of life’ for the grieving family and ‘took away a lot of the pain’. Twenty five year-old Channing Day joined the army in 2005 and following basic training undertook specialist training as a Combat Medical Technician.
In January 2012 she was posted to 3 Medical Regiment and was later selected to support 40 Commando Royal Marines as part of the Transition Support Unit in Naha-e Saraj. The ‘bubbly, sporty, beautiful’ young woman played football for Northern Ireland as well as ice hockey and gained a qualification as a ski instructor through the army.
She was also a Northern Ireland Gymnastics pairs champion. Her former army football coach, warrant officer Philip Pimlott, who served with Corporal Day in Germany, will lay a wreath on her grave on Monday. Her army colleagues remembered the popular and well respected medic’s ‘courage and strong sense of duty’ who ‘led by example in all that she did’. As a veteran of previous deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan she was looked up to as ‘a mature voice of experience and good advice’.
Corporal Day left behind her parents Leslie and Rosemary, sisters Lauren and Laken, and brother Aaron. Mrs Day said the first six years after her daughter’s death ‘went by in a blur’. “We threw ourselves into fundraising for Combat Stress trying, I suppose, to block out the pain and give us something else to think about,” she said. Then four years ago Leslie and Rosemary’s first grandson Kingsley was born and he brought with him ‘a new lease of life’ for the grieving family. “He took a lot of pain away and brought a lot of joy to us,” Mrs Day said.
Kingsley was followed by two more grandsons, Hudson and Jonah, who are now aged three, and then granddaughter Briar who is 18 months old. “Our last granddaughter Georgia will be one on October 24 – Channing’s anniversary,” Mrs Day said “She came three weeks early – we think someone had a hand in it.” Even so it is still ‘very hard’ for the family as they ‘learn to live’ with their loss. “Channing is thought about every day and talked about every day by all of us,” Mrs Day said. “The grandchildren know all about her.” Mrs Day added: “We are also proud of the fact that we as a family have got this far, with the help of the grandchildren, because in the early days we didn’t think we would.”