Army servicemen and women took part in a gruelling physical challenge last week, in memory of a Pulborough soldier who died a year ago.
Lance Corporal James Brynin, known as ‘Jay’, died while on patrol in Afghanistan on October 15 last year, aged 22.
Hundreds of military personnel marked the anniversary of his death by taking part in a challenge dubbed ‘The Bitter End’, at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan.
Refreshments on the day included a cake from Jay’s mum, Sharon. She said: “It’s nice to be able to do something positive out of this devastating situation.
“I wish people to be able to remember James as a fantastic young man and a positive professional solider who gave his all.”
James was a former Steyning Grammar School student, who played for Horsham FC’s youth team and worked at Billingshurst Leisure Centre.
He excelled in the army and was deployed to Task Force Helmand as an intelligence analyst.
‘The Bitter End’ was a 14-week challenge, where teams accrued 7344 kilometres, the distance from Kandahar to RAF Brize Norton.
In the final race off, three teams rowed 4km, a return length of Kandahar’s runway, cycled 156km to represent the months of operations, and added 453 press-ups, the number of UK personnel killed in Afghanistan.
The challenge has raised nearly £4,000 so far for Jay’s favourite forces charity.
Sergeant Khym France organised the challenge and 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.”
In the early hours of October 15, soldiers deployed into the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province to counter an imminent threat to the Afghan population and the International Security Assistance Force.
A statement from the Ministry of Defence revealed that James’ section became the target of enemy fire.
He returned fire, but while extracting from the area received a fatal gunshot wound, the MoD said.
Last year, James’ father Efrem said his son ‘died a hero’ and would be ‘eternally missed’.