Authors: Chantelle Taylor
THE MEMOIR OF
A COMBAT MEDIC
THE MEMOIR OFA COMBAT MEDICIN AFGHANISTAN
Copyright © 2014 Chantelle Taylor.
Cover artwork: Medics in Afghanistan by Edward Waite –
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ISBN: 978-1-4917-2528-3 (sc)
ISBN: 978-1-4917-2529-0 (hc)
ISBN: 978-1-4917-2530-6 (e)
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014902837
iUniverse rev. date: 4/14/2014
Brought to you by KeVkRaY
For my brother David
The following account is based on my experience as the lead trauma medic within an infantry fighting company. I have endeavoured to report events accurately and truthfully; insult or injury to any of the parties described or quoted herein, or to their families, is unintentional.
After putting my thoughts on paper over a period of six weeks in the late summer of 2009, I decided to send the raw text to my mum, trying to explain what I had experienced in Afghanistan as a serving soldier. It wasn’t polished, and it only touched the surface of my time with B Company 5 Scots (5th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland) during their mission to hold Nad-e Ali. She wrote back, commenting that my writing was developing into a good story and that she enjoyed reading about the characters, particularly young Duffy.
I would never have contemplated writing this book if it hadn’t been for Mum’s encouragement. I have enjoyed a lifetime of her wisdom: ‘You can stoop down and pick up anything, Channy; try reaching for it instead.’
I tell the story of B Company, a beleaguered group of individuals who fought relentlessly and against all odds to hold Nad-e Ali, a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan, in 2008.
It is difficult for soldiers to express feelings whilst engaged in combat, as training rightly teaches suppression of emotion in order to survive the battlefield. I wrote the following poem for Cpl Stu Pearson QGM (3 PARA) and Cpl Mark Wright GC (3 PARA). I share it here in honour of all our fallen.
KEEP ME AWAKE – KAJAKI
Lying still, like the Tommy did before me,
My trench is in a land far from her heart;
A purple horizon has become my solace, my peace.
Don’t fall asleep, soldier, for you may not wake again.
Body broken, I still breathe.
Who is that, who lies beside me?
I am your brother; you are my keeper.
Don’t fall asleep, soldier, for you may not wake again.
What is your name?
I am a fallen soldier; keep me awake, let me see her face once more.
I will, I will …
Don’t fall asleep, soldier, for you will not wake again.
second in command
2 PARA/3 PARA:
2nd/3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment
ABTF: Airborne Task
ANA: Afghan National ANP: Afghan National
AO: area of operations
ASM: air to surface missile
ATV: all-terrain vehicle
company aid post
close air support
category A (wound classification)
category B (wound classification)
category C (wound classification)
casualty collection point
combat logistic patrol
combat medical technician
combat search and rescue
Department of State
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
forward operating base
fire support group
general purpose machine gun
helicopter landing zone
interim communications operations method
improvised explosive device
infantry training centre
joint tactical air controller
Kandahar Air Force Base
Kabul International Airport
killed in action
location with grid reference
acronym for emergency medical assessment (
text for details)
medical emergency response team
main operating base
Ministry of Defence
meals ready to eat
National Health Service
night vision goggles
operational mentor and liaison team
poppy eradication force
Polemyot Kalashnikov machine gun
police mentoring team
prisoner of war
provincial reconstruction team
personal security detail
post-traumatic stress disorder
: Queen’s Gallantry Medal
quick reaction force
Royal Air Force
regimental aid post
relief in place
Royal Logistics Corp
rocket propelled grenade
Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
surface to air missile
subject matter expert
senior non-commissioned officer
sight unit small arms trilux
tactical advance to battle
unmanned aerial vehicle
weapons mounted installation kit
THE MAN IN THE ARENA
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
[AUTHOR’S NOTE: ‘The Man in the Arena’ is an excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s
Citizenship in a Republic
speech given at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on 23 April 1910. These are the words carried by my grandfather whilst serving in Korea in 1951 as a 41 Commando Royal Marine.]
The first explosion rocked the vehicle, smashing my head against the front of the wagon. I could hear rounds zipping through the antennas above me. ‘What the fuck?’ I shouted as an array of munitions continued to rain down on us.
I was in the same vehicle as LCpl Kevin Coyle, the signaller of the officer commanding (OC). The lightly armoured patrol in which I was travelling had turned into a Taliban shooting gallery; the noise from left and rear incoming fire was deafening. Our heavy machine guns roared into action as broken bricks and clouds of dust enveloped us.