A HARTLEPOOL soldier who crawled along a bomb-filled path to rescue his injured colleagues under Taliban fire has spoken of his pride after being chosen to help carry the coffin of Baroness Thatcher.
Corporal Carl Spence will be one of eight men from all three
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services making up the bearer party at the former Prime Minister’s funeral tomorrow.
The 29-year-old is a member of 9 Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers and he admits to being “nervous but excited” ahead of the funeral which will be beamed around the world.
All the pall bearers come from units that played notable roles in the Falklands conflict and the bearer party will be followed by two cap orderlies who will hold the caps of the bearers.
Cpl Spence told the Mail: “I am really proud to have been chosen to play a part in such a huge occasion.
“The call came totally out of the blue.
“My name and a colleague’s were put forward, but luckily I was selected and it is a huge honour to represent 9 Parachute Squadron.
“The training has been intense, but good and I was surprised how many media where there yesterday for the rehearsals.
“You can only imagine how many will be there on the day itself.
“I am nervous, but excited as the eyes of the world will be watching. But we are all determined to do a good job.”
He received the call while on leave and was delighted to be chosen to head down to London for the training ahead of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral.
All of the bearer party have to be the same height and Cpl Spence, who stands at 5ft 11ins, matches the criteria.
Despite being completely exposed to Taliban snipers, Cpl Spence crawled more than 90ft to each casualty and treated their wounds in the soaring 40C heat after an explosion in Afghanistan.
His mine detector had been destroyed in the 2008 blast, but the former Manor College of Technology student prodded his way down the trails and cleared a wider path to allow the injured soldiers to be carried on a stretcher to safety.
He was awarded a Joint Commander’s Commendation for showing “exceptional coolness” amidst the dust, mayhem and confusion.
The heroic soldier is based at Woodbridge, in Suffolk, with his wife, Jess, 25, and their two-year-old daughter, Bella.
Jess, a nurse, said: “We are really proud of Carl and we know he will do a good job.
“The family will be watching him on the television.
“Bella has already spotted him on the news and was shouting: “There’s my Daddy”.