A British soldier's body armour saved him from a Taliban gunshot during a fierce fire fight in Helmand province recently, enabling him to shrug off the impact and carry on with the mission.
Brave Trooper Daniel Griffiths, from 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG), was shot by insurgents while on Operation EAGLE’S SHADOW, a two-day operation targeting known insurgent ‘safe havens’ on the edge of the Nad ‘Ali district.
The operation’s mission was to disrupt insurgents’ ability to attack or lay improvised explosive devices against Afghan security forces and soldiers from the International Security Assistance Force.
23-year-old Trooper Griffiths, from Wrexham, had been working to identify an insurgent firing point after another part of his patrol came under fire from AK-47 assault rifles. But, as he moved to try to see where the insurgents were, another group opened fire from another location, pinning Trooper Griffiths and two more soldiers under fire. He said:
I was at the front or ‘point’, and as we turned the corner of the compounds we were opened up on from another firing point. We all hit the deck as the rounds pinged all around us.
As British soldiers returned fire Trooper Griffiths moved for cover - and was hit in the back by a round, square in the middle of his body armour plate. He continued:
It felt like a sledgehammer blow and knocked me to the ground. I kept heading for cover; I knew I just needed to keep going before doing anything else.
Once in cover my section second-in-command checked me for wounds and gave me the all clear. I felt angry and wanted to get back into the fight, but the guys calmed me down and we got back into formation to patrol.
When we got to a safe compound I checked my body armour and found the bullet had gone through my day-sack and into my back plate. I was pretty relieved, and felt a bit light-headed.
Trooper Griffiths ignored the bullet and bravely carried on with the mission, later escorting insurgent detainees to a helicopter and swapping his damaged plate for a new one before carrying on with the mission.
His patrol saw action again, wounding an insurgent rifleman who was given first aid before being taken to Camp Bastion for medical treatment.
Trooper Griffiths said:
When the helicopter arrived it had a new plate for me. I swapped it over and was ready to crack on. I felt a bit nervous but I knew I was all right with the rest of my section behind me and a new armour plate in.
At the end of the day we flew back to Camp Bastion. I knew I was a lucky man and took some time to myself to think of my wife and kids back home.
The Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF) is Task Force Helmand’s eyes and ears across the area of operations, and is also manned by soldiers from the QDG (also known as the Welsh Cavalry), 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment and other units.
Major Justin Stenhouse, QDG, Officer Commanding the BRF, said:
Trooper Griffiths is yet another example of the true bravery and determination displayed day-by-day by soldiers operating in Afghanistan. This action not only demonstrates individual courage and teamwork but is also testament to the high-quality equipment issued to those on operations.