Sunday, October 25, 2009

'Bittersweet return' for soldiers

Soldiers from a Northern Ireland-based battalion which lost 13 men during a six-month tour of Afghanistan have returned to their base in County Down.

The troops, from the 2nd Battalion The Rifles, are based at Abercorn Barracks in Ballykinler.

On 10 July, five men from the battalion lost their lives within 24 hours in what turned out to be one of the worst days for the Army in Afghanistan.

About 70 soldiers were reunited with their families at the barracks.

Major Alistair Field, who was wounded in the attacks on 10 July, said it was a "horrendous" day which was "pretty traumatic" for him to recount.

He described how his unit was caught up in an explosion while on their way to carry out a joint patrol with the Afghan national army.

'Lethal tour'

"One rifleman was tragically killed outright and several others injured, of which myself was one," he explained.

"And then about a half and hour later, as another call sign came to help with the casualties, they were caught in another "daisy chain" is the expression we use - lots of explosions joined up together - and another four riflemen were killed.

Major Field said the returning troops would be relieved to get back to their loved ones after a "very dangerous and lethal tour".

"Inevitably they're going to be extremely grateful to be home safe.

"The feeling of being reunited with your family, knowing that everything is going to be all right is just brilliant," he said.

1 comment:

  1. Hope you find peace and relaxation among your families and friends, thank you for your courage over the last 7 months.