The funeral of a Birmingham Royal Marine who was killed by a booby trap while trying to help fellow soldiers in Afghanistan took place in Sheldon yesterday (Monday).
Corporal Robert Deering died after rushing to help comrades when their armoured vehicle was hit by a roadside blast in Afghanistan on December 21.
The 33-year-old died instantly when a second blast was triggered as he approached their stricken personnel carrier in the Helmand province.
Up to 600 mourners, including Cpl Deering’s parents, sister Elaine and fiancée Gemma Polino, filled St Giles Church in Sheldon for the full military funeral. Many gathered in the nearby church hall where a video link had been set up and others stood outside.
During the service, led by the Rev Brian Kemp, tributes were paid by Royal Marine colleagues and Cpl Deering’s best friend Rob Savage, who spoke of his passion for cars and bikes, maintaining highest levels of fitness and his overall ‘zest for life’. He said: “Rob was a major personality, reliable and trustworthy and always there to look after the men who worked for him. He was an inspiration and a friend. He was cheerful in the face of adversity and a larger-than-life character with a gentle temperament. He was a brilliant Royal Marine and proud of the job he did.”
Solihull-born Cpl Deering worked in the family garage business for two to three years before joining the Marines in 1998. After his first tour of Afghanistan he was promoted and qualified as a vehicle mechanic. During his time in the marines he was deployed on operations to Kosovo, Iraq and twice to Afghanistan.
His father David, said: “Rob’s loss has devastated the whole family and he will be greatly missed by all of us.”
His mother Karen Waspe and stepfather Peter, said in a tribute: “From all the tributes Rob has received, from the highest-ranking officers to fellow Royal Marines and everyone who met him, it is clear that was much respected and loved. As his mother I am so proud of the man he became.
“Rob grew from a child with a heart of gold to a man with a heart of a lion.”
Gemma, who wrote a poem which was read at the funeral, said: “We had the most amazing five years together and did so much together that we were inseparable and joined at the heart. We hated to be apart, even when in the house, and were always by each other’s side. We did everything together. We were without a doubt soulmates.”
The couple had recently moved in together and had planned to marry and have a baby.
Sister Elaine said she was devastated by her brother’s death and would name her unborn son Rob in his memory.
After the service shots was fired as Cpl Deering’s coffin was carried out. His family then went to a separate location for a private burial.
His death was the 135th suffered by UK troops in Afghanistan since 2001.