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  • Christina Drummond

Corporal John Harrison, 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2009, Corporal John Harrison of the 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, Special Forces Support Group, was killed in Afghanistan. He was involved in a pre-dawn raid to free journalist Stephen Farrell, a British-born New York Times reporter, and his Afghan interpreter Sultan Munadi. Mr. Farrell had not taken advice from the Afghan police not to travel in an area that was a known Taliban stronghold - he was successfully released during the raid but Mr. Munadi was also killed. Three helicopters were used in the mission, landing close to the compound where the hostages were being held, heavily guarded by 19 insurgents. Corporal Harrison's critical job was to provide a cordon team to give protection to the rescue force. The insurgents directed accurate and heavy small arms fire, including rocket propelled grenades. Corporal Harrison led his team out into the hostile situation without hesitation. A colleague named at the inquest as Soldier B, who left the helicopter behind Corporal Harrison, said he was shot in the head seconds after the unit hit the ground and is believed to have died instantly. The inquest was told there was nothing anyone could have done to save him. Corporal Harrison's commanding officer, who was not named by the Ministry of Defence due to the special forces role of the unit, described him as a tower of strength and a remarkable man. "Corporal John Harrison was an immensely capable, self-effacing and highly likeable soldier with an irrepressible humour. His hallmark was an undemonstrative, yet profound, professionalism; he cared deeply about his work, and more deeply still about those he commanded and served alongside. He was an unflinching and inspirational man with a deep, deep pool of courage, who died as he lived - at the forefront of his men. He gave his life for his comrades and the Parachute Regiment, both of which meant so much to him." John, from East Kilbride, was 29 years old.

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