A serving Ilkeston soldier has spoken exclusively to the ‘Tiser about his work on the front line — and his disgust at the way he was treated by members of the public after he returned from his latest tour of Afghanistan.
The 22-year-old soldier, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, was verbally abused by two young men as he went to buy fast food in his home town.
One yob fired a disgraceful comment that it was a ‘shame’ the hero hadn’t been blown up!
It happened just days after he returned from his latest tour of duty where he risked his life alongside his comrades.
He explained: “I got home and was walking through town still in full uniform.
“I walked past McDonald’s and thought how much I’d love a Big Mac.
“It might sound weird but you do miss things like that.
“I ordered and got my food and as I was looking for a seat, a couple of lads, probably not much younger than I am shouted over to me.
“The first one said, ‘You didn’t get blown up then? Shame.’
“I looked up at them and couldn’t believe what they’d said.
“The other one then asked: ‘Have you killed anyone or you just been sunbathing?’
“I just said to them, ‘I’ve just come back, I don’t want to talk about it,’ got up and walked off.
“I was in shock, people have no idea what it’s like out there and most are supportive but it wasn’t the first time I’ve had comments like that.”
The frontline soldier, who has served in Afghanistan on a number of occasions, spoke about the difficulties soldiers face when their comrades are injured or killed.
“I lost a really close friend out there and in the same explosion another of my mates was left without an arm and leg.
“But you’re just expected to get on with things.
“On the outside it’s made to seem like the support is there and it is but asking for it isn’t easy.
“We’re trained to be strong and asking for help goes against that.
“I just block it out and carry on, it sounds heartless but you can’t think about it.”
Speaking about the withdrawal of troops from the country this year after more than a decade of con flict, the soldier told the ‘Tiser there is still work to do.
“I don’t think the job is done yet and I don’t think we should withdraw but we are not asked,” he added.
“It’s easy for people at home to make judgements but until you have seen what it is like there you can’t really have a say.”