BRITISH soldiers in Afghanistan held their final major physical challenge in memory of Shoreham soldier James Brynin.
The 22-year-old former Steyning Grammar School student was killed in action last year, when his patrol was attacked in the Helmand province.
Troops at Kandahar Airfield chose to support Lance Corporal Brynin’s favourite charity, Hounds for Heroes, and The Bitter End challenge, involving hundreds of British servicemen and women, was set up in his memory.
The intelligence analyst, known as Jay, was killed on October 15, 2013, and the final ‘race-off’ event was deliberately held exactly a year later to mark the anniversary.
Organiser Sergeant Khym France, from 904 Expeditionary Air Wing, said: “Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Jay, due to my endless daily contact with his mum, Sharon, he has become a huge part of my time and tour here in Kandahar.
“Wednesday evening for me personally was proud yet emotional. It’s not just about keeping fit on ops. It’s also about team cohesion, getting people together, working hard and supporting each other.”
The Bitter End was a 14-week programme where teams had to collectively accrue 7,344 kilometres, the distance from Kandahar to RAF Brize Norton.
The final ‘race off’ incorporated the top three teams rowing 4km, a return length of Kandahar’s runway, cycling 156km to represent the months of operations, and doing 453 press-ups, the number of UK personnel killed in Afghanistan.
The final race began with a short memorial service led by the unit’s chaplain, Padre Withers.
Mrs Brynin provided a special cake. “It’s nice to be able to do something positive out of this devastating situation,” she explained. “I wish people to be able to remember James as a fantastic young man and a positive professional solider who gave his all.”
The event was won by the 1 Prince of Wales Royal Regiment but the 904 EAW Execs team ran a close second. Nearly £4,000 has been raised so far.
L/Cpl Brynin was born in Shoreham on December 22, 1990. He had been attached to 14th Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare), which deployed as part of Task Force Helmand, and was working for a Light Electronic Warfare Team within the Brigade Reconnaissance Force of 7th Armoured Brigade.