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5 January 2012, 09:13
A Darlington soldier who was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan last week takes place today.
Private John King, from 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, was killed in a blast in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province.
The body of the 19-year-old will be flown to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
A private ceremony for his family will be held at a purpose-built repatriation centre on the air base before the cortege leaves via the Britannia Gate on its way to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
The cortege will be escorted at walking pace past the memorial garden in Carterton, where the Union Flag will be hung at half-mast and members of the public are expected to gather.
Private King joined the Army in 2009 and deployed to Afghanistan in October.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) 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 on December 30.
Private King was caught in the blast from an improvised explosive device.
The soldier leaves behind his mother Karen, father Barry, brothers Ian and Stephen, and girlfriend Kelly.
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.''
Lieutenant Colonel Dan Bradbury, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, said:
"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.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his comrades in Afghanistan - who will today be resuming their efforts to improve security – but most of all with his family in Darlington. We will remember him."
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:
"I was hugely saddened to learn of the death of Private John King. His colleagues speak of a soldier with true grit and determination who was always willing to support and help those around him, and above all of his tremendous sense of humour.
I extend my deepest condolences to his family, loved ones and to his brothers in arms in The Yorkshire Regiment."