THE body of a soldier shot dead by a member of the Afghan National Army has been repatriated to the UK.
Sapper Richard Walker, 23, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, was killed in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on January 7.
Yesterday, his Union flag-draped coffin was flown into RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
A private ceremony for his family was held on the air base before the cortege left for the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
The cortege was escorted at walking pace past the memorial garden in Carterton, where the Union flag was hung at half-mast.
Sapper Walker leaves behind a young daughter, Lilly-Faith, who he had only known for 18 months before he was deployed for his first tour of Afghanistan in September.
His family paid tribute to their son and brother in a statement, which read: “Richard held two things close to his heart ... his daughter and his colleagues in the Army. A proud, patriotic man, he died doing a job he loved, supporting his friends.”
Sapper Walker, a member of 28 Engineer Regiment attached to 21 Engineer Regiment, was killed and six others injured when the Afghan soldier opened fire.
They were all taken to the Bastion Role 3 medical facility, where Sapper Walker was pronounced dead.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the “insider attack”. Lieutenant Colonel Chas Story, Commanding Officer, 28 Engineer Regiment, said: “Sapper Walker was the epitome of a true sapper, one who would roll up his sleeves and get on with the task in hand no matter what.
“He made sure that he made the most of every opportunity, both in the Army and at home.”
Richard, who would have turned 24 next month, had been a keen footballer and had played in goal for Washington Village, as well as being a staunch Sunderland fan.