Monday, June 1, 2009
Soldiers love their nicknames. We've met a doctor called Boggy, Major "Tinker" Bell, and also Big Red, who is, appropriately, a tank commander.
So, I wasn't exactly surprised when Fusilier Hayden Hendricks told me the nickname his mates had given him: Jimi. The thing is, he doesn't really appreciate it as much as he should. I mean, fellow Fusiliers Podge and Fat Dicko would probably bend over backwards to be nicknamed after a genuine rock legend.
Hayden is only 18 you see, and also - for the moment - the youngest soldier fighting on the British forces' frontline in Afghanistan's Helmand Province. Jimi Hendrix is before his time, and so was fighting the Taleban, nearly.
While the rest of his colleagues headed out to start their six-month tour in April, Hayden had to stay behind and wait, because he wasn't old enough. As soon as he officially became an adult in early May though, he boarded his first ever flight, and headed to one of the World's most dangerous countries.
Getting to see him wasn't easy. For the time being, he is at Patrol Base Woqab, which is in the far north of Helmand, right at the edge of British operations. To get to him from Britain, we took two planes, a Chinook helicopter, a Warrior armoured fighting vehicle, and then patrolled through the dangerous Green Zone. We found out later that the Taleban where watching the last bit.