Monday, November 23, 2009
British Army officer, Lieutenant Paddy Rice, has been described as "the luckiest soldier in Afghanistan" after surviving being shot by a Taliban sniper.
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent, Nad e'Ali, Afghanistan
Lieutenant Paddy Rice of the 1st battalion Grenadier Guards was wounded in the back and neck while on duty in central Helmand.
The bullet struck the officer just beneath his left shoulder blade, then travelled inside his back and up to his neck, where it left his body, passed his right ear before blasting a hole through his helmet.
After being injured, Lt Rice, who was serving with the battalion's Inkerman Company, was flown by a Medical Emergency Response Team Chinook helicopter from his base to Camp Bastion, where his wounds were cleaned and left open for three days before being stitched under general anaesthetic.
The 25-year-old Guard's Officer was offered the chance of recuperating from his wound in the UK but refused and is now back serving with his platoon on the front line in the Nad e'Ali area of central Helmand.
The drama unfolded on the afternoon of October 26th, while Lt Rice was on the roof of British base known as Compound 23 in the Chah-e'Anjir area of central Helmand.
The soldier was dressed in his body armour and helmet and was in a kneeling position when he was spotted by a Taliban fighter who opened fire through a "murder hole" – in a mud wall.
He said: "I climbed on to the roof of the Compound 23, where my soldiers and I were based, and was trying to move a radio into a sangar (defensive bunker). It was an exposed position so I was wearing my body armour and helmet. I then felt a thump in the back of my back, as though I had been kicked, and I knew immediately I had been shot."
The bullet passed through his body, slicing open Lt Rice's back and leaving an eight inch long gash running diagonally from his shoulder blade to an area just beneath his skull.
He continued: "I put my hand up to the back of my head and I could see blood and I think I said something to my platoon sergeant, Gert Botha, such as "I've been shot".
"I was helped down from the roof and I radioed company headquarters, gave contact report (a message informing others that there has been an enemy attack), and said "there is one casualty and it's me – I've been shot". I wasn't panicking I had considered how I might react if I was shot or injured but because everything seemed to be functioning normally I think I realised I would be OK.
"I know that I was very lucky to escape with what is actually a flesh wound, albeit a nasty one. If I had been looking up the bullet would have hit the back of my head and that would have been a different story."
For the full story click here for the Telegraph online