Page last updated at 19:13 GMT, Friday, 13 June 2008 20:13 UK

Praise for 'brave' RAF corporal

Martin Beard
Martin Beard's death was described as "a huge blow"

The family of an airman who was killed in Iraq have praised the bravery of a comrade who carried his body out of the battle zone.

Leading Aircraftman Martin Beard, 20, from Rainworth, Notts, was shot while on patrol in Basra in August 2007.

Cpl David Hayden of Spalding, Lincolnshire, carried him on his shoulder to a waiting helicopter.

The Derby and South Derbyshire deputy coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing while on military duty.

'Huge blow'

His killing was described as a "wicked and despicable act" by deputy coroner Catherine Mason.

His family attended the inquest and thanked Cpl Hayden for "his astonishing bravery".

Although Leading Aircraftman Beard was not wearing full body armour when he was shot in the neck, the inquest was told it is standard procedure for patrols not to attach collars and arm pads because they restrict troops from firing their weapons accurately.

The extra armour only provides protection against explosions and not bullets, the inquest was told.

Cpl Hayden, an RAF infantryman, has been awarded a Military Cross for outstanding bravery.

When aircraftman Beard was fatally shot, Cpl Hayden moved him into cover with the help of a colleague and fired back.

His commanding officer Squadron Leader Jason Sutton said Beard's death was "a huge blow to the squadron".

Aircraftman Beard was buried with full military honours at All Saints Church in Ripley, Derbyshire.

His fiancee Nicola Parkin will dedicate an acre of woodland in Ambergate in his memory on 22 June.

Funeral for airman killed in Iraq
24 Aug 07 |  Nottinghamshire

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Retford Guardian Iraq victim's family praise brave comrade - 26 hrs ago

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