Page last updated at 14:16 GMT, Saturday, 11 July 2009 15:16 UK

Soldiers' tribute to Afghan dead

The soldiers receiving their medals
The part-time soldiers had to put their civilian jobs on hold during the tour

Territorial Army soldiers have paid tribute to their fallen colleagues while collecting medals for their recent service in Afghanistan.

A platoon of TA soldiers from the 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment received operational service medals at York Racecourse on Saturday.

The service marked their six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The batallion's commanding officer said their "hearts go out" to the families of those who have died in the country.

Fifteen UK soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan in the past 10 days.

'Ever-present threat'

L/Cpl Damien Eyre, 38, from Huddersfield, said the battalion's thoughts were with the families of the fallen and the troops still serving in the country.

"They need to continue doing the work, but it is hard for them," he said.

Pte Mark Brook and his girlfriend  Stephanie Caterer at the ceremony
Pte Mark Brook, from Sheffield, hugs his girlfriend after receiving his medal

"We need the British people to stand behind them and support them at this difficult time."

The 26 soldiers, from across Yorkshire and Teesside, guarded bases of Nato troops in Kabul, patrolled the city and escorted convoys in the region.

During the ceremony they paraded before friends, families and colleagues before being given their medals by the regiment's honorary colonel, Col Julian Fox.

Lt Col David Rhodes, the battalion's commanding officer said: "Our hearts go out to all the families of those who have died since the conflict began.

"The important thing is that the troops out there are getting on with the job.

"This was a difficult and dangerous task and there was the ever-present threat of roadside bombs and suicide bombers in the city.

"I am proud of each and every one of my soldiers."

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