Thank God for my legs and my life
From driving habits to bombs with a 5 year old
On our walk up to school today Rowan and I started talking about people’s driving habits. This led on to me telling him about when I used to drive a big van with blue lights on it. This in turn led me to explain to Rowan about bombs and my time in Iraq as part of the bomb disposal team.
We ended up chatting about bombs and what they do and it brought to the very front of my mind how lucky I am to not only have my life but in particular my legs.
Going to camp DogWood with The Black Watch
As part of the bomb disposal team based an a small Hell-hole called Al-Amarah in Iraq which lies about half way between Basra and Baghdad we were tasked with the IEDs from a wide geographical area. One of the opportunities we had was to support the feared and infamous Black Watch  on their trip up north to Camp DogWood. The team and I (well the Boss) tried his best to get us on the job but we were not chosen and it was decided from high up that another IED team should take the task on.
The bad news came
As we had not been chosen for the job we just carried on with our normal taskings and in the coming days we received the news that the team that had been assigned the task had been hit by a vehicle borne IED (suicide bomber).
As well as 3 members of The Black Watch losing their lives  the members of the IED team who was doing my job as well as another member of the Royal Corp of Signals had lost their legs. If memory serves me correct the soldier doing my job was standing behind the door of a Warrior Armoured Vehicle. If he had not been then he may well have lost his life.
This made us all very sad: not just for our fellow IED Regiment members but especially for the 3 who had made the ultimate sacrifice. It could well have been our team who was in that position and in particular it could have been I that was injured and now without my legs.
Remembering all of this made me quite sad (but very thankful) this morning and upon returning from my walk from the School-run I started to look into this further. Initially this was just to confirm my own memories. As it happens the soldier who was doing my job started to ski as part of his rehabilitation and has represented the UK in the Sochi Winter Olympics .
I then began to dig deeper and found him on Facebook. Upon messaging him it turns out that unlike me he is not at all down about what happened.
Thank God for my legs and my life
All of this makes me thank God for my legs but also for the fact that I am alive and I have the love and support of those around me.
Although I do have PTSD, I feel no guilt over this particular subject: I have a very matter of fact view of it. I feel no guilt as there was nothing I could have done to change the situation. Nothing I would have done would have meant that we could have been sent to that job. All the circumstances that played out were beyond the control of our team.
To forget or not to forget…that is the question!
Although on one hand I wish I could forget my times on certain far off lands, on the other hand I never wish to forget a single moment of my time in these very same countries. They remind me of how lucky any of us are to be alive; to have loved ones around us and also reminds me of the good that I have done with my life.
On reflection. If I had the choice between remembering or not remembering I would definitely choose to remember. There are many quotes I could point to such as:
- “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana
- “Only by remembering the past can we avoid repeating it” – John Evans (2014)
but in essence they come down to this. It would be an insult to all those who have fallen protecting their way of life if we were to forget the sacrifice they made on our behalf.