HEARTBROKEN parents of a soldier killed in Afghanistan have paid a moving tribute to the “best son in the world”.

Shirley and Neil Cochran have spoken out for the first time following the death of Lance Corporal Alan Cochran, 23, who died while on a foot patrol in the Helmand on Friday, June 4.

Speaking from the family home in Maes Lygon, Pentre Halkyn, Neil and Shirley said it had been Alan’s childhood dream to join the army.

Neil, 45, told the Leader: “He was the best son in the world.

“He was so dedicated to the army. It was what he had always wanted to do.

“When we went to Catterick for his passing out ceremony that was a very proud moment for us. There is no word big enough to describe it.”

Despite initial reservations about their son joining the forces, they said there was no stopping him.

Neil added: “We couldn’t have stopped him if we wanted to. We were fully supportive of him.

“When we spoke to him while he was away he was always so happy there.

“He knew it would be a full-time career for him and you could tell that just by reading the letters he sent.”

Shirley, 43, added: “You could almost feel the smile on his face when you spoke to him on the phone.”

L/Cpl Cochran, who attended Rhes Y Cae Primary School and the Alun School in Mold, initially worked for the family ground work and plant hire business after leaving school.

He joined the forces in 2006, aged 19, and was serving with the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment. He had previously served in Iraq.

Shirley told how the dedicated youngster had once completed a nine-mile run with a broken foot after fracturing the bone during the training exercise.

After being promoted from private to lance corporal in February his sergeant, Clive Smith, said he had a promising career in the forces.

He said: “Without a doubt he was a future star. He was as keen as mustard and gave such dedication. He made the army his life and he would have been a sergeant one day.”

The fitness fanatic and kickboxing enthusiast, who has two brothers Mark, 21, and Shaun,18, had been due to marry his fiancee Claire Brookshaw, 18, next February.
The couple had been dating for two years and met through one of Alan’s army comrades.

L/Cpl Cochran was shot dead during a gun battle with Taliban soldiers in Nahr-e-Saraj.

His comrade Corporal Terry Webster, from Chester, was also killed.

Neil added: “We want to send our condolences to the friends and families of all the bereaved and our best wishes for the safe return for all the ones who are left serving out there.”

The family have been inundated with hundreds of cards and flowers including a bouquet from Prince Charles.

Neil added: “People have been so kind to us. It’s overwhelming and humbling to see all the cards and messages.”

Hundreds of mourners are expected to pay their last respects to the young soldier at his funeral on Friday. A full military funeral is being held at St Mary’s Church, Ysceifiog, at noon.