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Memorial held for fallen soldier

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 September 2009 | UPDATED: 09:59 13 July 2010

Full military honours funeral for Cpl Stephen Bolger.

Full military honours funeral for Cpl Stephen Bolger.

Adam Gretton

A devastated father yesterday said that his family was still in shock, four months after the death of a Norfolk solider in an explosion in Afghanistan.

A grieving father said yesterday that his family was still in shock

four months after the death of a Norfolk soldier in an explosion in Afghanistan.

He spoke as army cadets gathered to pay tribute to paratrooper Cpl Stephen Bolger with the dedication of a memorial to the former Cromer cadet.

Cpl Bolger died while on active service in Helmand province on May 30. His father Mike said the family was still struggling to come to terms with their loss.

He was speaking after attending the service at the Norfolk Army

Cadet Force training centre at Thetford.

The former Cromer town councillor said he and his wife Denise had been touched by the gesture of the cadets in creating a permanent memorial to his son.

Cpl Bolger, 30, who joined the army in 1998, was a member of 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment but was part of a special forces support unit when he was killed.

Mr Bolger said his son would have been immensely proud of the memorial garden created to remember Norfolk and Suffolk's fallen soldiers.

But he added: "It has been awful. We have been in shock and we are still there, and it is still very difficult to come to terms with.

"Because he was a career soldier, we did not see him that often,

maybe two or three times a year,

and it is very difficult to realise

that he is not coming home

again."

Mr Bolger recalled that his son's three years as an army cadet in Cromer between 1994 and 1997 had fuelled his son's ambition to join the armed forces.

"I think he enjoyed every minute of it. He enjoyed the excitement and challenge and loved the camaraderie."

"He had an ability to relate to the Afghanis, and it was in his desire to see the conflict resolved, but not necessarily by killing them. When we got his laptop back it was full of pictures of ordinary Afghan families, and he engaged with the people," he said.

Cpl Bolger is the fourth former cadet to be added as a plaque

to the garden of remembrance at Thetford, which includes the names of L/Cpl Alex Hawkins, 22, from Beetley, near Dereham, and Pte Aaron McClure, 19, from Ipswich, from the Royal Anglian Regiment, who died in Afghanistan in 2007,

and Royal Marine L/Cpl Ben Whatley, 20, from Tittleshall, near Fakenham, who died in Helmand province on Christmas Eve.

Col David Hedges, commandant of Norfolk Army Cadet Force, said it had been Cpl Bolger's dream to be an airborne soldier and he had served his country with dignity and courage.

He added: "He was doing a job he loved and enjoyed to the full. He was a good cadet and an even better para.

"We will miss him."


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