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4 May 2011, 15:20
A Royal Marine from Hertfordshire killed in Afghanistan the day before his 24th birthday was "a fun young man'', an inquest has heard.
Marine Matthew Harrison, of 40 Commando, was part of a team manning a vehicle check-point in the Sangin district of Helmand Province when he was wounded in a firefight.
The attack happened on July 13 last year, just as an order was being given to withdraw.
A single bullet went through the soft part of Mne Harrison's body armour, missing the protective plate. It entered his chest, went through his liver and then exited his body through his back. Forensic examination showed it could have come from an AK47 rifle.
His colleagues dragged him 25 metres back to his patrol base where medical treatment was given and he was stabilised.
The inquest at Hertfordshire Coroner's Court heard the ongoing firefight meant it was too dangerous for a helicopter to land, so he was taken by quad-bike to a forward operating base.
From there he was flown by a US helicopter to the Camp Bastion field hospital, but his condition deteriorated during the flight and he was pronounced dead soon after arrival.
Captain Doug Hardman, who was commanding the check-point, said they were set up in an bid to integrate with the locals. He was closing down the operation when the shooting began, but said everybody was still in their positions.
Soon after the start of the attack he was then told that Mne Harrison had been hit, along with a soldier from the Afghan National Army, who also later died. A number of soldiers were immediately sent to retrieve the casualties.
Hertfordshire Coroner Edward Thomas gave the verdict that Mne Harrison, from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, was unlawfully killed while on active service.