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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 September 2006, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
Sorrow and ceremony for personnel
By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland news website

The Moray coast is no stranger to the rumble of military jet engines.

But there was something about the sound of the C17 Globemaster troop transporter that prickled the skin with goosebumps and raised hairs on the backs of necks on a sunny Tuesday morning.

On board the aircraft were the bodies of the 14 men killed in the Nimrod tragedy in Afghanistan 10 days ago.

The massive aircraft which had come from Kandahar appeared in skies now clear of the early morning rain showers.

Kinloss coffin
Bearers carry the coffin of Royal Marine Joseph Windall

It had stopped off at Brize Norton en-route where it had been "deflared".

The removal of anti-missile counter measures was a stark reminder that the aircraft had come from a hostile environment far removed from the peaceful RAF station basking in warm September sunshine.

The C17 landed and, after a short taxi, halted on the tarmac with its nose pointing north.

It was then that the ceremony of repatriation got under way, with full military honours.

The families of the fallen gathered in a large white tent with senior military staff and dignitaries, including the Duke of Edinburgh.

Coffins draped in the Union Flag were slowly carried down the aircraft's ramp by six bearers.

Chapel of rest

Marines of 1st Assault from Poole, Dorset, brought out Royal Marine Joseph Windall first.

Soldiers from the Parachute Regiment were next to go forward to carry the coffin of Corporal Oliver Dicketts, followed by the members of the RAF.

The Central Band of the RAF played quiet, sombre music throughout the ceremony.

Seven hearses carried the coffins to a chapel of rest specially set up within the base.

Kinloss - a usually busy station - was effectively closed for the day.

The squadron has been here 20 years and it is very important they come back to this base and for the local population
Wing Commander Chaz Counter

Wing Commander Trevor Field, one of the officers co-ordinating the media facility for the day, spoke of the massive collection of flowers left at the entrance to the station.

He said: "We have lost some good friends here and you can see that from the floral tributes. It's very, very sensitive."

However, the tragedy has touched more than those directly involved in the armed forces.

Wing Commander Chaz Counter, of 201 Squadron, said the losses had made an impact on the community outside the station gates.

He said it was an important gesture to have the bodies flown to Kinloss.

"I think it is extremely important - they constitute a crew who had flown together for months and years," he said.

"The squadron has been here 20 years and it is very important they come back to this base and for the local population."




SEE ALSO
Tribute for Afghan crash airman
09 Sep 06 |  Scotland
Lone Nimrod in tribute to troops
09 Sep 06 |  Scotland
Grounded Nimrod flight takes off
06 Sep 06 |  North East/N Isles
Family tribute to Kinloss airmen
04 Sep 06 |  North East/N Isles
Close-knit town wakes to tragedy
03 Sep 06 |  North East/N Isles

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