Operations in Afghanistan

Corporal David O'Connor and Corporal Channing Day killed in Afghanistan

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Corporal David O'Connor, from 40 Commando Royal Marines, and Corporal Channing Day, from 3 Medical Regiment, were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday 24 October 2012 while on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

Ministry of Defence crest
Corporal O'Connor and Corporal Day (All rights reserved.)
Corporal O'Connor and Corporal Day (All rights reserved.)

Corporal O’Connor and Corporal Day were participating in a patrol with C Company, 40 Commando to conduct low level training with the Afghan Local Police. While en route to conduct that training, the patrol came under small arms fire near the village of Char Kutsa. As a result of the engagement Corporal O’Connor was fatally injured alongside his colleague and patrol medic, Corporal Day.

Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond said:

I was deeply saddened to learn of the deaths of Corporal David O’Connor and Corporal Channing Day. Both have been highly praised by their colleagues for their courage and strong sense of duty. My thoughts are with their families, loved ones and colleagues in the Royal Marines and 3 Medical Regiment.

Corporal David O’Connor

Corporal O'Connor (All rights reserved.)
Corporal O'Connor (All rights reserved.)

Corporal David O’Connor deployed to Afghanistan on 29 September 2012 as a Section Commander in the acting rank of Corporal. He served with Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines as part of Transition Support Unit Nahr-e Saraj. He was based in Patrol Base 1 in the southern part of Nahr-e-Saraj District, Helmand Province.

Corporal O’Connor was born on 16 June 1985 and lived in Havant, Hampshire with his mother. He joined the Royal Marines on 13 May 2002 and after nine months arduous training passed for duty as a Royal Marines Commando on 17 January 2003.

In 2007 Corporal O’Connor deployed to Afghanistan with 40 Commando on Operation HERRICK 7 where he worked with Charlie Company in the Kajaki District of Northern Helmand. In 2009, after this brief period away from 40 Commando, he returned to the Commando to prepare to deploy once again to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 12, this time to the volatile Sangin District of northern Helmand. On this tour Corporal O’Connor was praised for his steadfast dedication and bravery and was awarded a Commander Joint Operations’ Commendation.

After attendance on the Royal Marines Junior Command Course in 2011 he immediately rejoined 40 Commando and started Mission Specific Training for what was to be his third operational tour to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 17.

Corporal O’Connor was an outstanding Royal Marines Commando. He displayed true Commando spirit in all that he did and was ferociously dedicated to his men, his Company and the Royal Marines. He was an inspirational leader and an excellent soldier; his loss will be felt not just at 40 Commando Royal Marines but throughout the Royal Marines Corps.

He leaves behind his mother, Rosemary; brother, Phil; father, Roy (known to all as George) and a loving family. He was 27 years old.

The family of Corporal O’Connor said:

David’s family and friends are greatly saddened by his loss and hope to be left to grieve privately.

Lieutenant Colonel Matt Jackson Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 40 Commando Royal Marines said:

This is an extremely sad time for 40 Commando Royal Marines, his friends and most of all his family. Corporal Dave O’Connor was one of the best; he was loved and respected by those around him and was relentless in the pursuit of excellence in his duties. Utterly professional, his four operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan marked him as one of the most devoted individuals in the Commando. Brave, committed and humorous it is difficult to find words that can possibly fill the void which has been left by this truly excellent junior commander; his loss is difficult to comprehend. His career was dedicated to the service of his country and to the lives of the Royal Marines with whom he served.

The Royal Marines that he leaves behind will continue to thrive on the enthusiasm he showed in every aspect of his role but their lives will always be marred by the sadness which comes with losing a great leader, a great companion and a great friend.

Corporal O’Connor’s loss will be mourned across the Royal Marines by those who he knew and by those who can only aspire to be in some small way like him. He was exceptional and I am immensely proud to have had the privilege of serving alongside him both here and on Op Cougar.

He lived his life for the things he cherished the most, his friends and his family and my thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time.

Corporal Dave O’Connor was a fantastic, engaging and professional man who was universally popular and highly capable in all he did. Major Chris Hall Royal Marines

Major Chris Hall Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said:

Corporal Dave O’Connor was a fantastic, engaging and professional man who was universally popular and highly capable in all he did. He has been with Charlie Company for many years and was a stalwart of both the professional and social side of Company life. He was a veteran of TELIC 4 and HERRICKs 7 and 12 and was very clear in his motivation for returning to Afghanistan for another tour. He wanted to lead his men and utilise his considerable experience to guide them through the next six months and leave Afghanistan a better country.

Dave’s cutting, self deprecating wit, easy going manner and endearing personality will never be forgotten by all those who had the privilege and pleasure to have met and worked with him. Our thoughts and prayers are with all his family and friends. He fell protecting his men, doing the job he loved, surrounded by those who loved him. He will never be forgotten.

Warrant Officer 2nd Class Mark Burton, Company Sergeant Major, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said:

Dave really was a true ‘Spartan’s Spartan’ and will always remain so. If there was a party and fun to be had you would always find him front and centre ensuring the men were enjoying themselves. A chilled personality belied his professionalism and ability. He was greatly respected by all and as a veteran of previous tours he really was one of the main men in the Company. Dave you will be sorely missed bud, see you at the great bar in the sky mate. Yours aye.

Captain Steve Taylor, Officer Commanding 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said:

More than anyone in the Company, Corporal Dave O’Connor embodied the history and ethos of everything we stand for: utterly professional and exceptionally sharp when it counted and the social epicentre of the Troop. His ability to both inspire and reduce you to tears of laughter within the same conversation was irreplaceable and as we press on we will forever miss that unmistakable smile.

He was a brother to many in the Troop who he took under his wing and guided through patrols with steadfast bravery and upstanding responsibility. His moral reserves were never drained, even in the worst of situations and his commitment to his brothers in arms was unwavering. For the entire Troop, our actions will be in the memory of Corporal O’Connor. We were privileged to have served alongside him - a true Royal Marines Commando and a true friend. Our thoughts are with his family and friends back home. Rest in peace.

Sergeant Richie Bateman, Troop Sergeant 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said:

I first met Dave about seven years ago at 40 Commando. Dave was genuinely one of life’s characters. His easy going nature made it very easy for people to get on with him and he was always at the heart of any fun and humour that was happening. Dave was already a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq and was one of the most operationally experienced Marines within the Company. In the short time we had been on HERRICK 17 Dave had been pivotal in running the patrols that went out and quite literally led from the front. I am devastated at the loss of Dave and the overwhelming loss for all his family and friends and my thoughts will always be with them.

Corporal Chris Harper, 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said:

What can I say about Dave other than he was one of the best blokes I worked with and one of my best mates? He survived Sangin on HERRICK 12 with Charlie Coy only to return to Afghanistan a few years later for his third Afghan tour. Motivated mainly by a sense of duty and a sense of responsibility for the younger lads in the Troop, he faced the dangers of the tour with his usual awesome humour and quiet professionalism. Having spent many a long night in his room discussing subjects ranging from life and death to eighties film trivia, I learnt to envy, respect and admire his outlook on life and general ‘Bootneck’ attitude. His death will be outshone by our memories of him whilst alive, and I feel far richer having known him.

I will never forget you, Dave. Rest in peace.

Lance Corporal Rich Morgan, 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said:

Dave O’Connor was a true Royal Marines Commando, an older brother figure of the 40 Commando family and a Charlie Company Spartan through and through. He was a good friend to many, a professional soldier in the field and on the ground and taught myself and the other lads many things which have helped us in our careers. He was a great ‘oppo’ and a morale booster, whether it was in the Spartan Bar (his domain), on a night out or on exercise in the middle of Salisbury Plain. His cheeky smile when he had jokingly seen you off, his great wit and banter summed him up and will stay with me and all who knew him forever. He died doing what he loved with his brothers around him and will be sorely missed by all.

Marine Tom Leigh, 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said:

Dave O’Connor was a great man. He loved to soldier, loved his friends and family, and kept morale high every step of the way. He was Charlie Coy down to his core, a true Spartan who will live on forever in our memories as he takes up his honorary place in the Spartan Bar. Stand easy, Dangerous Dave O’Connor, see you on the other side. The first round is on you. One of your closest friends, Tom Leigh.

Marine Paul ‘Lambert’ MacCallaugh, 8 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said:

Dave O’Connor was a hoofing bloke and a great leader to everyone who met him. He always had a smile on his face and was always quoting films that he had seen. There were always great laughs when he was around, he was always trying to see me off and take the mickey out of me. But we all knew that was Dave being Dave and we loved him for that. He was a great mate and a hoofing Marine, no one could match him. He will be missed greatly. RIP Dave.

Corporal Channing Day

Corporal Day (All rights reserved.)
Corporal Day (All rights reserved.)

Corporal Channing Amanda Day deployed to Afghanistan on 2 October 2012 as a Combat Medical Technician Class One with the United Kingdom Medical Group. She was based at Patrol Base One in the Nahr-e Saraj District of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where she provided medical support to 40 Commando Royal Marines.

Corporal Channing Day was born in Swindon, Wiltshire on 12 March 1987. She grew up in Newtownards, County Down before joining the Army in 2005. Following basic training she undertook specialist training as a Combat Medical Technician. In June 2007 she successfully passed her Class One Combat Medical Technician course. In January 2012 she was posted to 3 Medical Regiment and joined 63 (Force Support) Squadron, based in Preston, and in the build up to Operation HERRICK 17 was selected to support 40 Commando Royal Marines as part of Transition Support Unit Nahr-e Saraj.

Corporal Day was a popular and well respected member of both 3 Medical Regiment, and Transition Support Unit Nahr-e Saraj. A veteran of previous Iraq and Afghanistan deployments, she was looked up to, especially by more junior soldiers in her Squadron, as a mature voice of experience and good advice.

Corporal Day clearly displayed the potential to go far within the Army. Her diligence, her loyalty to friends and comrades and the high opinion in which she was held by all ranks made her a natural medical leader. Her courage, selflessness and commitment in adversity embodied the ethos of the combat medic, and will be long remembered by all those who had the honour to serve with her.

Corporal Day is survived by her parents, Leslie and Rosemary Day, her sisters, Lauren and Laken, and brother Aaron. She was 25 years old.

The family of Corporal Day paid this tribute:

Channing was bubbly, sporty, beautiful and lived her life for the Army. She has died doing what she lived for and in the life that she loved. She will be remembered by all who knew her as a wonderful girl who never stopped smiling and who had an infectious laugh.

Channing played football for Northern Ireland as well as ice hockey and also gained her qualification as a ski instructor through the Army. She was also the Northern Ireland Gymnastics Pairs Champion. A girl who lived her life to the full without ever giving up on her dreams.

She was a fabulous daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin, niece and friend. She will be so sadly missed by all.

Lieutenant Colonel Phillip de Rouffignac, Commanding Officer, 3 Medical Regiment said:

Corporal Channing Day was a star for the future. Although only 25, she had recently been promoted to Corporal, and her current operational experience in Iraq and Afghanistan made her a natural choice for the demanding role she was undertaking in support of 40 Commando Royal Marines. Diligent in every respect of her preparation, she had worked hard all the way through the build-up training and led by example in all that she did.

Hugely popular with her friends in Preston, Catterick and in Afghanistan, Corporal Channing Day made the most of everything and had lived a lifetime in a short time. An Army footballer, she was a real team player in every sense. Corporal Day will be sorely missed, and the thoughts of all our Regiment are with her family and friends at this difficult time.

Lieutenant Colonel Matt Jackson, Commanding Officer, 40 Commando, Royal Marines, said:

Corporal Channing Day had clearly made a positive impact on Charlie Company Royal Marines and is spoken about with huge warmth and affection; she was an inspiration and example to all whom she met. Throughout her short time with 40 Commando Royal Marines she endeared herself to all that she worked alongside. Enthusiastic, popular and professional it was clear that she really was one of those rare people who could lighten the mood regardless of the situation. Highly competent she gave Charlie Company the confidence to patrol across a dangerous area knowing that she would be there to care for them if they fell - she was devoted to helping others.

The loss of such an exceptional talent has come as a tragic blow and our thoughts at this time are with her Squadron in the Royal Army Medical Corps and especially her family to whom we offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences at this exceptionally difficult time.

Corporal Channing Day had clearly made a positive impact on Charlie Company Royal Marines and is spoken about with huge warmth and affection; she was an inspiration and example to all whom she met. Lieutenant Colonel Matt Jackson

Major Paul Sandle RAMC, Officer Commanding, Close Support (Task Force Helmand) Medical Squadron, 3 Medical Regiment, said:

Corporal Channing Day joined Close Support (Task Force Helmand) Medical Squadron from 63 (Force Support) Squadron when 3 Medical Regiment re-structured into its Operation HERRICK 17 configuration in early 2012. Channing was a very experienced Combat Medical Technician who had already served operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Channing had recently been promoted to the rank of Corporal and was enjoying the opportunity to lead the junior medics of 3/5 Troop who were working alongside 40 Commando Royal Marines as part of Transition Support Unit Nahr-e Seraj. Channing’s strong character, good nature and unique sense of humour were invaluable in contributing to the efforts of the Squadron. She was never one to shy away from a challenge, and would fully immerse herself in the task at hand, fully embracing the role of a close support medic.

Channing was a dedicated and selfless medic who put the needs of others before her own. She will be greatly missed and our sympathy goes out to her family and friends.

Lieutenant Charlie Tibbitts RAMC, 3/5 Troop Commander, Close Support (Task Force Helmand) Medical Squadron, 3 Medical Regiment, said:

Corporal Channing Day joined 3 Medical Regiment early in 2012 and immediately made an impact with her outgoing personality, her professionalism and dedication to her job. Aside from being a thoroughly professional soldier, Channing was a highly popular member of the Squadron who was always happiest with her friends whether out in town or on the training area.

When informed that she would be deploying to Afghanistan for the second time in as many years, Channing looked forward to the chance to deploy forward in a close support role with 40 Commando Royal Marines. She was not the sort of person to take a back seat and was always keen to go out on patrol and engage with the Company she was attached to. As well as being a keen and professional soldier, Channing was an excellent medic who was dedicated to attending to the needs of others and always put her patient’s needs and those of others before her own.

Back in barracks Channing was at the heart of all social activities and her presence had the ability to immediately lift the spirits of those around her.

Channing’s passing will be hard on her Squadron and amongst the wider Royal Army Medical Corps community as well as those that she has served alongside both in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is by remembering her warm and friendly nature and her determination to do the best for those she served alongside that her memory will be best honoured.

Warrant Officer Class 2 (Squadron Sergeant Major) Barry Lewin RAMC, Squadron Sergeant Major, Close Support (Task Force Helmand) Medical Squadron, 3 Medical Regiment, said:

Corporal Channing Day deployed with the Close Support Medical Squadron from her Troop based in Preston, and immersed herself in pre-deployment training. She deployed on Operation HERRICK 17 in support of the 40 Commando, Royal Marines in the Close Support Role and fully embedded herself within Transition Support Unit Nahr-e Seraj.

Being a Class One Combat Medical Technician, Channing was responsible for the delivery of both Primary and Pre Hospital Care to those that she supported, a job at which she excelled. Both her military and medical skills were without question excellent, and being a very capable Junior Non-Commissioned Officer she was able to take to this task with great ease. As a medic, her patients and casualties always came first.

She was a very much loved member of her troop. As a chatty and bubbly individual she always had a smile on her face, and was always on hand for the younger members of her Troop if they needed guidance or advice.

Her death is a great loss to her deployed squadron, parent squadron, the Regiment and the wider Royal Army Medical Corps. Our thoughts are with those she loved and left behind.

Sergeant Karl Hinton RAMC, Troop SNCO Combat Medical Technician, Force Support Medical Squadron, 3 Medical Regiment, said:

Channing Day was taken away from us today, God bless her, a quirky Northern Irish girl who loved to play mother hen to the younger medics. Channing was a great medic and deeply cared about the lads’ welfare and well-being no matter who she was attached to. She was a perfect example of the ethos of the Royal Army Medical Corps. Channing will be greatly missed and I had the honour of being her Troop Sergeant. In my eyes she is a true hero, giving her own life to help injured comrades; I will never forget her nor will any of her colleagues. My heart goes out to her family especially her Mum who she had a special bond with. Channing Day, a true legend, we will never forget.

Corporal Kelly Pope RAMC, Combat Medical Technician, Force Support Medical Squadron, 3 Medical Regiment, said:

Channing, for once I am lost for words, the loss that we are all feeling is unbearable, I am proud to have served with you my fellow Corporal, my friend, my confidante. ‘IN ARDUIS FIDELIS’.

Lance Corporal Grace McLeod RAMC, Combat Medical Technician, Force Support Medical Squadron, 3 Medical Regiment, said:

Channing… words cannot begin to describe how we are feeling right now. Our condolences go out to your nearest and dearest; we have lost a dear friend and colleague and what I would call a family member. Going to have to find a new gym and cinema buddy now, and I miss our little nights in my room drinking my famous cups of tea! We are having a massive party when we get back to the UK but gutted it’s in such devastating circumstances. I am missing you so much right now and I love you to pieces. Rest in peace, Gorgeous, Grace.

Private Bethany Gilford RAMC, Combat Medical Technician, Force Support Medical Squadron, 3 Medical Regiment, said:

Meeting you, Channing, has set the bar for any friendship I will ever have; you will always be a true and perfect friend. I know that I can vouch for anyone who has ever had the honour of meeting you that you have touched all of our hearts deeply. You warmed everyone with your presence and always had a smile which could only be returned warmly. Never forgotten and always in my heart. All my love, Bethany.

Published 24 October 2012