Page last updated at 05:35 GMT, Friday, 20 June 2008 06:35 UK

Call to support city's TA parade

Regimental Sergeant Major Mark Aslett
RSM Mark Aslett is calling on people to support the Southampton parade

A soldier in the British Army has called on the public to attend a special parade in Southampton marking the centenary of the Territorial Army.

Organiser, Regimental Sergeant Major Mark Aslett, of the Second Battalion Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, hopes residents will show their support.

Saturday's Freedom of the City parade will begin at Civic Centre Road.

The Queen will attend the main Horse Guards pageant in London. Since 2003, seven TA soldiers have been killed.

They are laying down their lives on the line for 'Queen and country' and more so for their county and their families, where they live
RSM Mark Aslett

Nearly 15,000 members of the Territorial Army have served alongside the regular British Army in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The parade will begin at midday and continue until 1700 BST, during which soldiers will fire a salute.

"I decided to organise a parade to mark this auspicious event," said RSM Aslett.

"We are doing it for two reasons really.

"Firstly, to ask the public to show their support for the TA who are operating throughout the world as we speak, in two major conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"They are laying down their lives on the line for Queen and country and more so for their county and their families.

"Secondly, this is our opportunity and the public's opportunity to repay that debt by ensuring their support on 21 June."

'Dodging bullets'

RSM Aslett, who has served in the armed forces for 22 years, began his career as a private soldier.

His first deployment was to Northern Ireland, South Armagh, at the age of 18, before going on to be posted in Kosovo, Bosnia and the Congo.

He has also served six-and-a-half tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he was involved in developing the first ever Iraqi Army.

"It was a difficult and testing time in a hostile environment trying to train troops and dodge bullets at the same time."

He is now in charge of selecting "young potential officers who aspire to go to Sandhurst to become officers or the Royal Navy or the Royal Air Force" at the Southampton University Officer Training Corps.

"I have attended many funerals in the last three of four years but that is the nature of the job and that is the risk we take."

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