Wednesday, June 10, 2009
A soldier who was shot in the back by a Taliban sniper in Afghanistan had his life saved by his platoon leader, who pulled out the bullet with his bare fingers.
Lance Sergeant Daniel Collins was knocked over by the force of the bullet and turned to Sergeant Grant Lewis to gasp: "I've been shot."
But the bullet was slowed by his body armour and only just penetrated his skin.
Sgt Lewis, could see the bullet and managed to dig it out with his bare hands after the incident in Helmand Province.
L/Sgt Collins, 26, of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, was left with just a hole in his back and minor bruising.
"I knelt down in an irrigation ditch in partial cover when I was hit in the back by a single shot. It must have been from about 200 to 300m away. It knocked me down in an instant - it felt like being hit by a sledge-hammer at full swing.
"I was face down in mud but I managed to shout to Sergeant Lewis that I'd had been shot. He replied in disbelief. So I said again: "Seriously Grant, I've been shot in the back.
"He crawled over to me, lifted up my body armour and physically removed the bullet with his bare hands. I was amazed when he said: "You've just got a bruise - there's no blood."
L/Sgt Collins, of Cardigan, West Wales, was left in excruciating pain from the bullet wound and was airlifted to an army hospital in Afghanistan where he was recovering this week.
Doctors at the Camp Bastion hospital have told him he would have died if the bullet had struck just millimetres lower.
"The bullet hit the very bottom right-hand side of my ceramic body armour back plate, literally right at the edge. Any lower and the doctor said that it would have gone straight through me, hitting my kidneys.
"The bullet was a 7.62mm round - that's a high calibre bullet to be hit by, but it shows you that the body armour works. I wouldn't be sat here now telling you this story if I hadn't been wearing one.
"If I ever meet the person who designed our body armour, I'll buy them a pint."