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Father gets card after Iraq death

22 July 07 10:43 GMT

A father whose son was killed in southern Iraq received a birthday card from him two days after he had died.

Peter McFerran, 24, from Flintshire was one of three RAF servicemen who died in a mortar attack on a base in Basra.

His father, Robert McFerran, who spent 10 years in the RAF himself, said he broke down as he opened the card at his home in Connah's Quay.

Senior Aircraftman McFerran was in 1 Squadron RAF Regiment at RAF Honington near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Mr McFerran received his son's card on Saturday, on it he had written the RAF Regiment motto, Per Ardua, which is Latin for "through adversity".

He had also written: "Dear Dad, see you in September, love Peter".

Mr McFerran said: "I was opening various cards from well-wishers today (Saturday) and I just thought it was another one.

"I nearly had a heart attack when I realised it was from Peter."

SAC McFerran had been home for two weeks leave last month.

Mr McFerran and his wife Ann had last seen him on 22 June, when he returned to Iraq with his regiment.

The Wales rugby fan had organised tickets so that he and his dad could travel to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in September to see Wales play Japan in a world cup match.

"He would ring us up," Mr McFerran said. "The last time I spoke to him he was a bit fed up really. He was tired because he had been on duty.

"He had arranged for us to go and see a Wales rugby world cup match when he came back.

"When he rang he said that we were going to see Wales v Japan because he had been unable to get tickets for the match against Australia.

"We were both hoping that Wales would win.

"We would go and see rugby together when we could."

SAC McFerran attended Dee Road Infants School and then the Custom House School in Connah's Quay, before he moved to the Mold Alyn High School.

He then attended Deeside College and his great love was sport, particularly rugby and hockey.

He would also go to the gym two or three times a week and had fitness trainer before he joined the RAF.

SAC McFerren was the heavy machine gun operator for his unit.

"Peter was very, very fit. He really was extremely fit," his father said.

"He joined the RAF at 21. It was always what he was going to do."

Mr McFerran said that the present tour of duty in Iraq was his son's second.

"This was his second tour and he was due back home in September.

"He had already done six months out there a year ago."

Along with SAC McFerran, Matthew Caulwell from Birmingham and Christopher Dunsmore from Leicester, were the others who died in the rocket attack.

All three had been on a break from duties at a base in Basra when it was hit.

'Commitment'

Defence Secretary Des Browne paid tribute to the three men, saying: "They were all exceptional and talented young men whose professionalism and selfless commitment will not be forgotten.

"My heartfelt condolences go out to their partners, families, friends and colleagues in Iraq at this most painful and difficult of times," he said.

The total number of British service personnel killed in Iraq is 163, with 127 of those killed in combat.

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