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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 July, 2003, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Military honours for 'invincible' soldier
funeral of soldier Russell Aston
The funeral took place at the church where Corporal Aston was married
Military police joined hundreds of mourners at a small rural church in Derbyshire for the funeral of a colleague killed last month in southern Iraq.

Corporal Russell Aston, 30, was one of six members of the Royal Military Police shot dead during protests in Al Majar al-Kabir, near Basra.

The soldiers had been defending a civilian police station which came under attack.

Corporal Aston, leaves his wife Anna, 31, and 17-month-old daughter Paygan.

Red cap

Hundreds of friends and residents packed St Mary's Church in Coton in the Elms, Derbyshire where Corporal Aston grew up.

The soldier's coffin, draped in the Union Flag and laden with his treasured red cap, white ceremonial belt and regimental bayonet, was carried by six military police colleagues from his unit.

Members of Royal British Legion branches from across the Midlands flanked the church with raised standards and fellow Red Caps formed a guard of honour as the funeral procession marched inside.

PROUD FATHER
Anna Aston and daughter Paygan
He seemed impervious to danger, he was a loyal friend, an outstanding soldier and an exceptionally proud father
Captain James Hibbert
Platoon commander

Platoon commander Captain James Hibbert told the congregation: "To us Russ was invincible, surely no one like him could simply die.

"He seemed too quick, too strong and too full of life to die.

"He seemed impervious to danger, he was a loyal friend, an outstanding soldier and an exceptionally proud father."

Corporal Aston's father Mike said: "I shall always miss him and I shall never, ever get over his death.

"But I stand here today feeling 10 feet tall with pride because few will ever equal what he achieved."

THE SIX SOLDIERS WHO DIED
Corporal Russell Aston, 30
Swadlincote, Derbyshire
Corporal Simon Miller, 21
Tyne and Wear
Sergeant Simon Alexander Hamilton-Jewell, 41
from Chessington, Surrey
Corporal Paul Graham Long, 24
Colchester
Lance-Corporal Benjamin John McGowan Hyde, 23
Northallerton, Yorks
Lance-Corporal Thomas Richard Keys, 20
Bala, N Wales

Corporal Aston was married to Anna at the same church four years earlier.

Corporal Aston, known as Russ, was the physical training instructor of the 156 Provost Company, Royal Military Police.

He had previously served with the Grenadier Guards and was a military parachute-trained soldier who had conducted operations in Macedonia, Northern Ireland and Kenya.

The bodies of all six military policemen were flown back to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire earlier this month.


SEE ALSO:
Military funeral for ambush solider
15 Jul 03  |  North Yorkshire
Funeral for ambush soldier
14 Jul 03  |  North West Wales
Shock over soldiers' deaths
25 Jun 03  |  Essex


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