Town pays tribute to fallen soldier

GALLERY Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a soldier who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan as he helped to save two injured comrades.

Annie Davidson

HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to a soldier who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan as he helped to save two injured comrades.

Corporal Jason Barnes was laid to rest with full military honours after a service at St Peter's Church in Colchester yesterday.

The 25-year-old's grieving widow, Diane, paid tribute to her “sexy pants” husband with a floral tribute spelling out the words and a card which read “Sexy pants, a wonderful husband, my best friend, my soul mate.

“We laughed, cried and shared everything together.

“I miss you more than words can say. My love for you will never die. You are my hero. Love you always, Diana xxx. Baby sleep tight.”

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A guard of honour formed from midday outside the North Hill church to receive the armourer, who died as he drove an ambulance in southern Afghanistan shortly after helping save two injured comrades.

Members of his regiment, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, part of the 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, then carried the coffin draped in a Union flag displaying the belt, beret and medals into the church.

Commanding officer of Cpl Barnes's previous regiment, the army Air Corps, Major Dean Steptoe, said Cpl Barnes, who only joined 2 Para in February, was an enthusiastic, diligent and extremely capable soldier and a loving friend and husband.

He said: “His keenness and enthusiasm has always been abundantly clear despite his short time with 2 Para. He was a man who would do all in his powers to help others irrespective of cap or badge.

“Jason was one of the most dedicated soldiers I have ever met. Jay lived and loved life to the full.

“We have all learned something from him and undoubtedly this will stay with us forever.”

Cpl Barnes' mother, Beverley Barnes, spoke of her curly red curly haired son who played loud music and would often play-fight with his brother and sister.

She said: “He used to tell me everything would be alright and he would come home soon.

“And he always finished every phone call with 'love you lots mum'.”

A card attached to the flowers she had chosen for her son said he would be “always in my heart, never out of my mind.”

A family friend read a poem on behalf of his wife which was followed by the song Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol which was played at the couple's wedding.

Hundreds of residents stopped and applauded the cortege as it passed along the High Street to Colchester Crematorium for a private family ceremony.

Two Lynx Army helicopters from Cpl Barnes' previous regiment, the Army Air Corps, flew above the procession as a mark of respect.

At the crematorium, a short private service was held before friends and family stood outside and soldiers from 2 Para gave a gun salute followed by the playing of the Last Post.

Cpl Barnes had helped to evacuate injured comrades to a helicopter after an enemy attack in Afghanistan on July 22 when the ambulance he was driving back to base was struck by a roadside bomb.

He died a few minutes later but his two injured colleagues were taken to a nearby medical base and survived.