LCpl Garret on OP Herrick 15
I am currently the Cbt Med Tech for 1 Signal Squadron based in Bletchley and have recently returned from an operational tour ofAfghanistan.
I was attached to 1 Medical Regiment in Munster, Germanyfor Op HERRICK 15, 23rd Sept 2011 – 30th March 2012.
My tour of duty began in CP Karim in Nadi Ali. Here I became the patrol medic for 1 PWRR.
I remember it like it was yesterday, the first few days of being in location was very quiet, doing normal GDA patrols, then one night most of us in the CP headed for bed leaving only the Sanger positions and the Radio commander alert. All of a sudden the check point came under contact, I could hear the rounds whizzing past above my head. In a big fluster stand too was called, guys launching themselves up onto the walls of the CP to take up fire positions. The contact seemed to last hours but, in fact only minutes had passed.
That was my first contact and patrols of the local area suddenly changed. One patrol that sticks out in my memory was a normal GDA patrol of the area in Karim showing our presence to the local nationals but, on this particular day two patrols were out on the ground ours and one from a check point further up the main road.
The other patrol came under contact and required our assistance. We quickly took up fire positions and gave support allowing the patrol to withdraw into safety. All were quite happy that both patrols were able to withdraw with no casualties were taken and we then proceeded to return to CP Karim.
After working in CP Karim for 4-6 weeks I was relocated to PB Shazad which was still in Nadi Ali’s area of operation.
Here I worked along side the doctor in the main medical facilities. I was able to enhance my skills and general knowledge of drugs and equipment. Unfortunately, this role only lasted for 2 weeks and I was returned to Bastian.
In Bastian my role completely changed, from being a frontline medic to working in primary health care along side the physio’s and honestly it was a good change and a relief to be somewhere that was extremely safe and not having the fear run through your entire body every time you left the check point gate.
Again I gained a great deal of experience in this role, as I was able to see all kinds of injuries and the treatment given, to give full recovery of the injured muscles, ligaments etc.
Having gained this experience helped me to understand the treatment I was to give a soldier on the ground and hopefully prevent minor casualties being extracted to Bastian. But sadly this role only lasted 2 weeks, I was then given a day in the operating theatres, where I witnessed some amazing people perform what I could only describe as miracles, the images I have will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Now well and truly into November winter begins to set in. Temperatures drop dramatically and sand storms become more frequent. I was given a new role. I was to be a mounted medic for QRH. I was to live and work on a Warthog as part of the OC TAC. This proved challenging at times as we could be out on the ground for days.
The guys in the warthog group welcomed me and made life that little bit easier for me. But the dangers within this role had some slight differences to being a dismounted medic. You need to be very alert as ground sign is one of the biggest aspects we use to move around the desert whether it’s at daylight or during the night.
With QRH, I managed to see most of Helmand as they cover all 5 areas of operation. Our job was to support ground troops on deliberate operations and provide communication and medical support. Often we would find ourselves stuck in a location for up to 10 days due to a patrol min. With no welfare facilities during this time, this was when family members back home would panic the most due to no communication from me so they were unaware if I was okay or not.
This did occur often during December through to January. December the 28th finally arrived R&R leave was here. Time to spend with my family and friends, rest and a lot of sleeping. But it seemed to go in a flash, here one day gone the next!
On January the 15th I was flown to main operational base Price. Here I returned to the warthog group. I continued to work along side QRH until the end of January; I was then requested to relocate to check point Manzira in Rahim.
Here I became a dismounted medic again working along side 1 Yorkshire Regiment. CP Manzira was quite small only housing 15 people, 13 Infantry soldiers, 1 medic and Interpreter.
1 Yorks made me feel completely at home as if I had spent my entire tour with them.
1 Yorks did many deliberate operations within Rahim these could be anything up to 14 hours long.
Fear would run through my body whenever we left the check point.
Contacts happened every other day; threats would come over the icom that they were coming for us. Seven weeks passed slowly and my end of tour date was in sight, but I never lost focus until both my feet were firmly on the ground within the UK.
Hand on Heart I can honestly say my tour of Afghanistan was both hard and challenging. I met many people that I will never forget. Afghanistan tested me to the utter limits.
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