Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Contacted at Loy Doreh

Fire Support, 1 R WELSH had a patrol to undertake in the afternoon. Within 20 minutes of leaving Checkpoint Bennett (a new CP established to provide security along Route 603), the 30 man patrol came under fire from the Taleban. It was a feisty skirmish from the insurgents, with a sustained small fire arms attack.

In the Ops Room, map pins were rapidly pushed into a grey map showing the positions of the three platoons and suspected insurgent position. Captain Frankie Taylor, the 2ic of the company was calmly questioning the two radio operators to establish were the contacts were coming from. But no sooner had the ground picture been established, than the Taleban melted away. There had been lots of shouting heard over the radio, as soldiers carried out tried and tested drills. There had been no reports of casualties.

Frankie and the ops team dutifully reported the incident to HQ and the rear party. Soon after, the CO of the Royal Welsh, Lieutenant Colonel Nick Lock then landed at the checkpoint for a planned visit to meet the Fire Support team both in the compound and on patrol. Having done a quick tour of the compound he was out on the ground to join up with the patrol.

It was only to be 20 minutes later that the crack of gunfire could be heard from the compound. The crack turned into a vicious exchange of shots, with each side aggressively laying down fire. The radio operators could hear the excited and charged voices of the platoon commanders panting out positions and updates. Two of the afghan soldiers had been wounded.

The compound gates were rapidly opened. However, it was not the wounded but the CO who came into the compound. “We missed the action by about 2 minutes”; there was a tinge of regret in his voice. Frankie was able to brief the CO that both casualties were walking wounded; one had been shot in the foot whilst the other had sustained shrapnel wounds to his right leg and arm. The two combat medics had rushed to their aid patching up both soldiers deftly and the platoon quickly got them out of harm’s way. Brought in by jackal vehicle, the two casualties were very quickly bandaged and made comfortable; Corporal Raphael Gbedebu and Private Jason Edwardson, the combat medics, saw to that.

“Give these guys some room”, shouted  one of Corporals in the team as concerned Afghan comrades gathered around the injured men. His tone of voice needed no translation. The two medics then set about treating their wounds gently but quickly. Both soldiers were very much aware of their injuries but had been reassured by the medics that they would be patched up and that their injuries were “very manageable”.

Frankie put in the “9-liner” report on the triage state of the casualties and requested that a helicopter casevac the wounded soldiers back to Camp Bastion. He was a thorough in his reporting as he was deft. Over the net, HQ acknowledged the request. “Boys”, said Frankie in a beguiling Welsh lilt, “let’s get these casualties to the helicopter site; medics say they can walk – job done”. Praise doesn’t come higher than that in Fire Support company. “Well not for us old and bolds”, said Frankie.

Pictures: Sqn Ldr Dee Taylor

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