Hundreds mourn death of North soldier

HUNDREDS of mourners turned out to bid a final farewell to a Tyneside soldier killed in an Afghan mortar attack.

HUNDREDS of mourners turned out to bid a final farewell to a Tyneside soldier killed in an Afghan mortar attack.

A full military service was held for Sgt Barry Keen, who became the 67th casualty of war in Afghanistan when he was killed near the village of Mirmandab in the south of the country.

Friends and family packed out St Paul’s Church, in Winlaton, Gateshead, in honour of the 34-year-old, of Rowlands Gill.

Sgt Keen’s army colleagues were among those who travelled to the North-East for the service with six regiment members acting as pallbearers carrying the coffin draped in a Union flag with his cap, medals and belt placed on top.

Before the funeral, tributes were paid by his parents Rosalyn and Pete.

A statement read: “Following the tragic news of Barry’s untimely death, we would like to express our appreciation at the support we have received from his many friends at home and in the military community.”

Sgt Keen was killed in an indirect rocket fire attack on a compound near the village of Mirmandab in the south of Afghanistan on Friday, July 27.

Sgt Keen, of 245 Signal Squadron, 14 Signals Regiment, Royal Corps of Signals, was reorganising with his team in a secured area after acting in support of the Afghan National Army, when a single mortar round landed next to him.

Despite being with the Regimental Aid Post and receiving immediate medical treatment, his injuries were too severe for doctors to save him.

He was serving as a communications specialist attached to Battle Group (South), which is deployed on Operation Chakush (Hammer), fighting the Taliban in the Upper Geresk Valley, Helmand Province.

Sgt Keen had been in the Army for 18 years and had completed tours in Bosnia and Northern Ireland and was on a six-month tour in Afghanistan.

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