Page last updated at 14:32 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Marines' bodies flown back to UK

Marines Neil Dunstan (left) and Robert McKibben
Neil Dunstan and Robert McKibben died on joint patrol (Pic: MoD/PA)

The bodies of two Royal Marines killed in an explosion in Afghanistan have been brought back to the UK.

Neil Dunstan, from Bournemouth, Dorset, and Robert McKibben, from the Irish Republic, both aged 32, died on patrol in Helmand province on 12 November.

The pair, from UK Landing Force Command Support Group, served with the Plymouth-based 3 Commando Brigade.

Family and friends were present at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire when their bodies were flown in.

He loved what he did, and that's my only comfort
Kate Miller

Hundreds of people, including former members of the armed forces, also turned out at nearby Wootton Bassett to pay their respects while the hearses passed through the town.

The vehicles stopped and flowers were laid on the coffins as part of what has now become a town tradition after starting about 18 months ago.

Marty Power, a former Falklands War veteran and current standard bearer of the Royal Marines Association, said it was vital that those killed in action were recognised.

He said: "It is important that everybody, given the opportunity, comes out when those who have given their lives for their country are returned to the UK.

Marty Power of the Royal Marines Association
Standard bearer Marty Power was one of the veterans paying his respects

"They do is a fantastic job and it's so sad when guys get killed for the job they volunteered for."

The explosion happened while the pair were on joint patrol with Afghan soldiers in the Garmsir district.

Marine Dunstan was due to marry his fiancee, Kate Miller, in 2010.

She said: "He loved what he did, and that's my only comfort - to know that he died something he loved so much."

Marine McKibben, who was from Westport, County Mayo, had been expected home by his family before Christmas.

The fatalities took the total number of UK military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan to 300 - 124 of them in Afghanistan.

The men's bodies are being taken to Oxford, where inquests will be held into their deaths.

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