2008 was the time of my first Operational Detachment, I’d be in for seven years at this point and I was desperate to get away.
Getting a real medal and being able to say I was there, I did my bit, that’s what drove me in those days.
I think when people on the outside, civilians, look at us going away, they must think we dread and hate it. We don’t. Of course it’s horrible being away from your loved ones but the sense of duty you find within yourself can be overwhelming. I don’t think you even realise it at the time.
Looking back at that dark period in Afghanistan around 08/09 the death toll was horrific. Hardly a day went by without listening to the MERT team coming in fully laden with casualties. Looking after both friend and foe.
I attended more repatriation ceremonies in that short period than I have been to church in my adult life.
We all just got on with it though, we had to. 18 hour days sometimes in burning heat with casualties and rockets part of our everyday lives. We almost became blasé about the whole thing. I wonder how many of us are effected by that to this day and still don’t know?
To end with a cliche, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I don’t think I will ever be involved in a situation like that again, with the inherent danger but at the same time the camaraderie and brotherhood will never be matched.
Per Adua Ad Astra
Sgt Francis Porter
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