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Authors: Chantelle Taylor

Battleworn

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BATTLEWORN

THE MEMOIR OF
A COMBAT MEDIC
IN AFGHANISTAN

CHANTELLE TAYLOR

iUniverse LLC

Bloomington

 

BATTLEWORN

THE MEMOIR OFA COMBAT MEDICIN AFGHANISTAN

 

Copyright © 2014 Chantelle Taylor.

Cover artwork: Medics in Afghanistan by Edward Waite –
www.edwardwaite.com

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

 

 

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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

 

CONTENTS

Preface
List Of Abbreviations And Acronyms
Prologue
1   Game On
2   Establish Routine
3   The Shooting Season
4   Flashheart Arrives
5   Face-To-Face With The Taliban
6   Patrol Base Test
7   Mass Casualties
8   Ali Cat
9   Homeward Bound
10   Saying Goodbye
About The Author

 

 

 

 

For my brother David

(1970–2002)

PREFACE

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.’

In
Battleworn,
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.

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS

2IC:
second in command

2Lt:
second lieutenant

2 PARA/3 PARA:
2nd/3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment

ABTF: Airborne Task
Force

ANA: Afghan National ANP: Afghan National
Police

AO: area of operations

ASM: air to surface missile

ATV: all-terrain vehicle

Brig.:
brigadier

CAP:
company aid post

Capt.:
captain

CAS:
close air support

casevac:
casualty evacuation

cat-A:
category A (wound classification)

cat-B:
category B (wound classification)

cat-C:
category C (wound classification)

CCP:
casualty collection point

CLP:
combat logistic patrol

CMT:
combat medical technician

CP:
command post

Cpl:
corporal

CSAR:
combat search and rescue

CSgt:
colour sergeant

DEFAC:
dining facility

DOS:
Department of State

evac:
evacuation

FCO:
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

FOB:
forward operating base

FSG:
fire support group

Fus:
fusilier

GC:
George Cross

GM:
George Medal

GPMG:
general purpose machine gun

HE:
high explosive

HLZ:
helicopter landing zone

HQ:
headquarters

ICOM:
interim communications operations method

ID:
intradermal

IDF:
indirect fire

IED:
improvised explosive device

IM:
intramuscular

intel:
intelligence

ITC:
infantry training centre

IV:
intravenous

JTAC:
joint tactical air controller

KAF:
Kandahar Air Force Base

KAIA:
Kabul International Airport

KIA:
killed in action

LCpl:
lance corporal

LKG:
Lashkar Gah

LOCSTAT:
location with grid reference

Lt:
lieutenant

Lt Col:
lieutenant colonel

Maj.:
major

MARCH-P:
acronym for emergency medical assessment (
see
text for details)

MERT:
medical emergency response team

MOB:
main operating base

MOD:
Ministry of Defence

MREs:
meals ready to eat

NHS:
National Health Service

NVG:
night vision goggles

OC:
officer commanding

OMLT:
operational mentor and liaison team

ops:
operations

PB:
patrol base

PEF:
poppy eradication force

PF:
Pathfinder

PK/PKM:
Polemyot Kalashnikov machine gun

PMT:
police mentoring team

POW:
prisoner of war

PRT:
provincial reconstruction team

PSD:
personal security detail

Pte:
private

PTSD:
post-traumatic stress disorder

PX:
post exchange

QGM
: Queen’s Gallantry Medal

QRF:
quick reaction force

RAF:
Royal Air Force

RAP:
regimental aid post

recce:
reconnaissance

reorg:
reorganisation

resupp:
resupply

RI:
Royal Irish

RIP:
relief in place

RLC:
Royal Logistics Corp

RPG:
rocket propelled grenade

RRF:
Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

SAM:
surface to air missile

SC:
subcutaneous

Sgt:
sergeant

Sgt Maj.:
sergeant major

sitrep:
situation report

SME:
subject matter expert

SNCO:
senior non-commissioned officer

SUSAT:
sight unit small arms trilux

TA:
territorial army

TAB:
tactical advance to battle

UAV:
unmanned aerial vehicle

VP:
vulnerable point

WMIK:
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.
—Theodore Roosevelt

[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.]

PROLOGUE

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.

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