One of our dedicated readers recently contacted the author and asked if I could include more “juicy details/drama” in the next post. I’m still working out what I can/can’t post about my specific job here, so I had to look elsewhere for some interesting tidbits to keep you involved. (I’ll admit that this story has only the slimmest connection to myself, but it’s a good story to keep you occupied until next time.)
If you are like many Americans, you’ve been captivated by the drama and saga that is the Olympic Games. Not having access to American TV (I know…it’s tough. But I do get “Hardship Pay”), I’m not sure if this story made the headlines. If it did, forgive me for being redundant.
Here on the NATO base, it’s a hodgepodge of different countries, languages, and camouflage patterns (nomination for worst pattern: Australia. More on that later). There aren’t many British soldiers here, but I always like talking to them about their military units—they always have the craziest names, like the “Grenadier Guards”, the “Royal Dragoons”, or the “Gurkha Brigade”. I recently had a conversation with a British soldier who had been a member of the 7th Parachute Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery (commonly called the 7th PARA RHA).
|Members of the 7th PARA RHA in southern Afghanistan.|
|Parkinson in Afghanistan|
Parkinson joined the British Army in 2000, and deployed on combat tours to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2006, his unit (the 7th PARA RHA) was deployed to Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. On 12 September 2006, his vehicle struck an anti-tank mine and suffered tremendous damage.
Parkinson lost both of his legs, fractured his back, and suffered a major brain injury. He wasn’t expected to live, and if he did live, the doctors didn’t expect him to walk, talk, or function independently ever again. After a four-month coma, Parkinson regained consciousness and began his long rehabilitation. Doctors claim that he is the most seriously injured British soldier to survive.
Fast forward six years: fitted with a new pair of prosthetic limbs, Parkinson took part in the Olympic Torch Relay on 26 June in Doncaster, a village in South Yorkshire.
He was scheduled to carry the torch 300 meters, which he did without crutches (although he did have the help of an aide), over a span of 26 minutes. Thousands of people lined the streets of Doncaster to watch and cheer him on, in addition to 50 members of the 7th Parachute Regiment. Several 7th PARA members who were present during his accident (and rendered the first aid which kept him alive) were also in attendance.
Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson and the Olympic Torch
Major David Walker of the 7th PARA RHC commented, “We would have crawled through broken glass to be here today and support Ben.”
|Members of the 7th Para looking on in support.|
After the event, Parkinson stated that he was “amazed by all the support”, and admitted he had practiced walking the 300 meters every day for the previous 4 weeks.
Next on his agenda: Parkinson’s brother is getting married later in the summer and it’s his goal to stand up for him as Best Man and make the traditional Best Man’s Speech.
As my British friend would say, “Well done ole chap, well done.
Click here for a short video of the event.
If you’d like to read more of the inspiring story of Ben Parkinson, click here.
Come back next time, and I’ll try to have juicy details from my own experience here in Afghanistan.