Monday, March 8, 2010

3 RIFLES solider tackles live Taleban hand grenade

A soldier of 3 RIFLES has been talking about his decision to pick up a live Taleban hand grenade and throw it back in an attempt to save himself and his comrades.

Rifleman James McKie from Recce Platoon, 3rd Battalion The Rifles was under fire from three directions when the hand grenade hit his Platoon commander and landed at his feet.



“My first thought was I hope this doesn’t hurt too much” he said. “That, and I’ve really only got one chance to do this. If it fails, either way, doing nothing, I’m going to get the same amount of hurt. So I picked it up and threw it off the roof”.
The actions of Rifleman McKie helped to save the lives of his Commander and one other soldier who were engaging the enemy in a fire fight, from a compound roof, in the Sangin area of Helmand Province.

“The fire was disciplined and accurate. I managed to spot one of the firing points and I engaged with my GPMG to suppress the enemy. After a few minutes they stopped firing and we continued observing to the east. It must have been no more than five minutes and then I heard what sounded like a mini flare come from our right where I knew there were none of our guys, so I thought this was really unusual. It was actually the fly-off lever of a grenade that had been thrown from the alleyway below”.

Rifleman McKie sustained fragmentation injuries to his right arm and face as the grenade exploded mid air, close to where he stood.



Fragmentation also hit his Platoon Commander Captain Graeme Kerr who sustained injuries to his leg and who is recovering at Selly Oak Hospital in the UK.

“We were in a high position on a compound roof. There was no way you could throw yourself off and not get injured, so I made a decision to pick up the grenade and throw it off the roof. And I threw it quite deliberately. I tried to throw it properly, to clear the roof. I didn’t want to do it half arsed and have them throw it back at us or anything like that. I remember thinking that if I didn’t pull this off, it was going to hurt. But at that stage I was pretty much committed.

“My platoon has taken a lot of casualties. I really didn’t want to see anyone else get hurt. So I committed to that course of action. It was dropping down into the alleyway before it detonated. As I continued to watch it, as you are trained to, I received fragmentation in my face and right arm. Because of the way Captain Kerr was positioned, he got a larger piece of fragmentation in his left leg, but otherwise no-one else was seriously hurt”.

Rifleman McKie then threw smoke to cover their withdrawal and with Captain Kerr and his section, withdrew, firing and manoeuvring until they reached the safety of another compound. Captain Kerr was immediately evacuated by helicopter, but Rifleman McKie was able to continue in his duties until the following day when he was evacuated to Bastion, despite his protests to stay.

“In retrospect, people keep telling me how brave I am, which I’m slightly embarrassed about. I’d like to think that anyone in that situation would have done the same or something similar because you can’t just sit there and let yourself or other people get hurt. I don’t feel particularly brave. I thought: I have to do this to survive. Not just for myself but for the guys around me as well. I’m not expecting anything from them, I don’t want any thanks from them, I just don’t want them to get hurt.

Rifleman McKie recently joined the British Army, having previously served in the New Zealand Army. “I love soldiering”, he said. “I love being here in Afghanistan. Obviously bad things happen and I can’t go back and change it, but what I can do is try and stop things happening around me. As far as the military experience goes, this is the ultimate for a career soldier. I understand there are a lot of people out here who don’t like it, who can’t wait to get home, that’s their opinion and I have to respect that, but this is what I want to do”.

28 comments:

  1. Jesus. This really puts my "bad day at work" into perspective! Makes me think of this: “I was taking cover behind the Hesco /while you were back in f***ing Tesco. from the Times.

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  2. Bravery I can't even begin to imagine. You are all amazing. Thinking of you all and wishing you safe and well.

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  3. See???? There are loads of PATRIOTS out there...how brave can you get!
    Thank you!
    Proud Army Mom
    Sandy Yebba

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  4. Hi there, I am a television reporter in New Zealand hoping there may be some way I can get in touch with James McKie.
    My telephone number is +6421 245 7131 if you are able to pass them on.
    Thanks.

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  5. Swift and Bold.

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  6. As Monty Python said you lucky, lucky ....

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  7. Thank you, UK soldiers, for your service, sacrifice, and incredible bravery.

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  8. Good for you young man, very brave act

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  9. A New Zealander once again standing shoulder to shoulder with Brits in conflict after conflict as we have done for more than a century. But when arriving at Heathrow Kiwis are directed to the "Aliens" queue whilst others without that shared sacrifice are fast-tracked into Britain. Ironic isn't it.

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  10. That is what I call 'Thinking on your Feet' - well done - hope you/Commander make a speedy recovery. God Bless you all xx

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  11. THIS IS THE STUFF WE AMERICANS ARE REALLY MADE OF WE NEED TO HEAR IT ALL THE TIME INSTEAD OF THE NEGATIVE YOU ARE AN AWESOME SOLDIER HERO-FROM A HEROES MOM SSG Jack Martin III d-9-29-09 gone but not forgotten another hero died in action

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  12. Hi, thank you very much. good job.

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  13. Dear Rifleman James McKie, thank you for your story, as modest as you are. I see that you recently joined the British Army, having previously served in the New Zealand Army. That in itself speaks volumes to your character, that you would go that distance to become the soldier you are meant to be. Yes, you are a hero. :) I have read many courageous accounts of British valor in Afghanistan and Iraq. Your story is one more added to that list. May God's blessings be upon you. My prayers are for you, your comrades, and all U.S. and coalition soldiers bravely fighting this war against terrorism. Love to you all. A forever grateful U.S. citizen. Jan D.

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  14. Well spotted - to say the least! Be careful out there!

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  15. Does anyone know when the 3 rifles are due back in england?? and do they get any time in bastian?? My brother is out their now, its just he hasnt been able to get in touch that often.. If someone could mail me that would be great angel_eyes_sowfeh@hotmail.co.uk many thanks, and good luck to the men out their, all support is with you. xxx

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  16. Very brave and courageous Rifleman McKie. Thank you for your quick thinking and your dedication to protecting those who serve with you. Take care!

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  17. SWIFT AND BOLD you do us very proud!!! to the person who wants to know when they are returning they are currently arriveing back in england and will all be home by end april hope this helps.

    proud 3 rifles wife xx

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  18. God bless you all

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  19. Fantastic a true "Rifleman" "Swift & Bold". Thank you to a Commenwealth kin

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  20. The stuff of action novels laddie - or the front cover of Victor comic at the very least (if it still exists?). Nails!

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  21. Big Brass Ones mate.

    Well done, and I hope your courage is rewarded.

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  22. Be vigilant always troops,
    Animals have to be tamed.

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  23. I'm a Canadian Veteran... very proud to have found this site... nicely done Rifleman James McKie... I will toast your actions tonight in the legion with my Brothers and tell them honor still rules the day

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