11:26am Friday 22nd May 2009
By Mike Buckingham
AFTER the cheers and the bunting there was a hush as the last of the large battalion marched into their appointed places and awaited the arrival of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent accompanied by the Colonel Commandant of the Rifles, Lieutenant-General Nick Parker.
Powerful and impressive as the march through Chepstow had been the muster of the 1st Rifles on Beachley's parade ground made an even more awesome picture.
Behind them, on the tallest flagpole fluttered the Union Flag flanked by the flags of the regiment and the crossed swords of the British Army.
The Royal Navy's white ensign signified that in Helmand province the regiment had formed part of the 3 Commando Brigade of the Royal Marines.
This was a military occasion and a reminder on an otherwise joyous day that war demands its toll.
In his welcoming address General Parker said "We recognise the enormous amount of support the battalion has had from the people, a support that we often tend to underestimate."
But he said, the ultimate sacrifice had been made by Rifleman Stuart Nash, Corporal Richard Robinson, Corporal Daniel Nield, Lance-Corporal Stephen Kingscott, Sergeant Chris Reed, Lance-Corporal Paul Upton, Corporal Tom Gaden and Rifleman Jamie Gunn.
"What the battalion has achieved was not without loss. But to us these men will be Riflemen forever."
Flanked by the ranks of her dead brother's comrades, Jessica Gunn, 24, received the Afghan campaign medal on her brother Jamie's behalf, with her were her father, Mervyn and mother, Janet.
As the Duke of Kent approached Jessica managed a smile and when he had passed told the Argus "It is very emotional, but Jamie would have been proud of this day."
It was a show of courage, dignity and composure of which indeed, the heroic young Jamie Gunn would have been proud.
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