THE family and friends of two servicemen killed in Afghanistan have paid tribute to their loved ones.

Lance Corporal James Ashworth, 23, and Corporal Alex Guy, 37, were repatriated to RAF Brize Norton yesterday.

About 500 people turned out at the memorial garden on the edge of Carterton to pay their respects to the fallen soldiers.

The parents of L Cpl Ashworth, of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, described their pride in their son.

His mother, Kerry Ashworth, of Corby in Northamptonshire, said: “He was funny, friendly and always had a smile on his face.

“James died doing what he loved. Anything that my children do that they love I will support them 100 per cent in. He died a hero.”

She added: “It is so nice to see so many people from Oxfordshire here. They did not know James but they know what he did and they respected that.

“It has touched my heart.”

His father, Duane, 44, from Corby, said: “It is amazing that so many people have turned out. It helps.

“I feel a massive sense of pride, but this is the start of the end.

“It has been a waiting game for the last week and this is the start of saying goodbye.”

Mr Ashworth was also in the Grenadier Guards and his former colleagues helped train his son.

L Cpl Ashworth’s brother, Karl, 19, said: “James was so cool and so popular when we were growing up. I always wanted to be like him.

“If I ever got bullied he was always there and would stop them.

“I have got some big shoes to fill but I am so proud of my brother.

“He accomplished so much in his life.”

Colleagues and former colleagues of Cpl Guy, of 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, travelled from around the country to be at the repatriation.

WO2 Jamie Hill, who returned from Afghanistan three weeks ago, said: “He was a very good leader of his men and he was a joker.

“I only saw him a couple of weeks ago in Wahid.

“He had just come off an operation and he was in good spirits.

“I feel quite helpless being here and want to go back and be with the guys out there.”

Sergeant Trev Cowell had known Cpl Guy for 14 years and was in the guard of honour at his wedding in 2006.

He said: “He was just an all round nice bloke.

“He did not have a bad word to say about anybody.

“It is not nice to be here, but no matter where I was in the country I would have been here for my friend.”

Pearl Thrumble, of Essex, lost her son, Private John Thrumble, from 1st Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment, in Afghanistan in 2006.

She said: “We understand their pain and wanted to show our support for them today.

“You are in a different world when you lose your child, but we wanted to show the families you will get through it. I am still standing.”

Mourners also paid their respect outside the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where the soldiers’ bodies were taken for post-mortem examinations.