Thursday, 22 October 2009

Ripley soldier tells of his Taliban blast drama

A RIPLEY soldier who has just returned from the front line in Afghanistan said the army had provided him with the 'scariest' and most 'exciting' experiences of his life.

Robert Eyre, 21, who serves with 245 Squadron 14th Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare), based in Wales has just returned from a six-month tour of the war-torn country.

Recalling his first experience of coming under enemy attack, Robert said. "An explosion went off then another one hit us.

"It was one of scariest and most exciting things I have done in my life. The insurgents fired rounds of rocket propelled grenades.

"We scrambled around, got our body armour and helmets on and manned the radios while the guys got their guns."

The regiment was deployed on March 13 and spent six months in Helmand Province, tuning in to the insurgents attacking coalition troops. The signals squadron worked in groups of two or three called light electronic warfare teams when accompanying infantry patrols in Helmand.

The equipment they used picked up Taliban radio, giving warnings of terrorist activity to the infantry to which they were attached.

After arriving in Helmand, they spent a month in Sangin before moving on to Lasha as part of an operation called Panther's Claw.

Some nights were spent sleeping under a sheet, next to tanks, others were spent in tents. Luckily, the whole squadron came back to the UK unharmed and healthy.

Robert, who is back in Ripley for five weeks, said: "We intercepted the enemy's voice, looking for transmissions and worked closely with the nation's interpreters. The hierarchy tells you where to go and we follow orders, providing front line commanders with information.

"It's a lifesaving job, helping the lads on the ground. Our equipment has got a lot better than it was in previous tours. I have not had any problems."

Now Robert has five weeks' leave, he plans to take his fiancee Emma to London. He will then go back to Wales to continue training and plans to spend another few years in the army.

"It's one of the best things I've ever done and it will be a big part of my life for a while.

"I know something could go wrong, you get used to it when it happens so often," he said.

At the start of October, Robert joined his squadron to take part in a parade in St David's near Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire where they all received the The Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan.

Ripley and Heanor News

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