Oxford MailMourners brave the cold to pay respects to fallen hero (From Oxford Mail)

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Mourners brave the cold to pay respects to fallen hero

Oxford Mail: The repatriation of Guardsman Michael Roland at the First Turn, Headley Way The repatriation of Guardsman Michael Roland at the First Turn, Headley Way

HUNDREDS of people braved the elements to pay silent tribute to a fallen soldier who had just become a father to twins.

About 200 people came to Carterton yesterday to pay their respects to Guardsman Michael Roland.

He was killed less than a month after arriving in Afghanistan for a tour of duty.

The 22-year-old from 3 Platoon, part of the 1st Battalion of the Grenadier Guards, leaves behind a girlfriend and baby twins.

And as his body was taken from RAF Brize Norton to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, people turned out to honour him.

Former flight lieutenant Graham Taylor, 80, from Bampton, said: “Coming here is a duty.

“Anything like this is always emotional. I just apply some military discipline and see it through.”

Shirley King, from Carterton, agreed: “We have got to show our respect to these young lads who are going to Afghanistan and I try to come as often as I can.”

Once again there was a strong representation from the Royal British Legion with more than 10 standard bearers.

As the cortege came to a halt before the memorial garden in Norton Way, silence fell and Guardsman Roland’s family, who embraced each other throughout the ceremony, placed floral tributes on the hearse.

Hundreds also lined the side of Headley Way, in Headington, to pay their respects as the cortege turned into the JR.

Jim Lewendon, of the Royal British Legion, helps organise the tributes in Oxford.

He said: “It was very cold but we still had a very good turn out – there were a couple of hundred people there.

“You still get the same emotions even after all these times.

“They are very sad occasions all round.”

Guardsman Roland died last Friday after being deployed on a three-day operation to disrupt insurgent activity in a contested area in the north of the Nahr-e Saraj district.

He was fatally wounded during an exchange of small arms fire.

Lance Sergeant Mooney, section commander of the 1st Battalion, described him as a “true soldier”.

Norman MacRae, the mayor of Carterton, said: “There are people here to give a metaphorical hug to the family and they have travelled from places like Brighton and Nottingham to do so.

“It is still a dreadfully moving ceremony.”

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