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  • Paul Twitchell
  • Interview by: Jess Boydon


It was a strange day.

It was quite overcast and very, very humid

and usually Iraq is quite sunny most days

but this was just a little bit different,

so it had a different feeling to it.

We got called to the helicopter

because of a shooting incident with a head injury.

The task wasn't too far away.

It was on the actual firing range

not far from Basra.

A young man, a lance corporal,

he'd only been in theater a couple of days

and he was only young.

And he had an incidence when trying to clear a stoppage

from a Minimi weapon

and unfortunately a round went through his hand

or through his wrist and into his head.

He was clearly in a bad state.

So, we put him aboard the helicopter

and I took my position as everybody else did

in the helicopter

and he was, we very quickly took off

and went to the medical facility

but en route he seemed to with his eyes open,

seemed to be looking at me.

And I felt very helpless.

Very, very helpless.

It felt like I should be doing something.

The medics were working furiously to do everything

they possibly could with him

and he had horrific injury, horrific.

But that vision of him staring into my eyes

was something that locked into my brain.

We landed at the medical facility

and we unloaded him and off he went.

And sadly he didn't make it.

The next day, I was in the actual mess facility

where we had a TV set up

and there was BBC News that was on there

and there was a picture of the latest casualty of Iraq

and it was up there and it was him

and obviously the only time I'd seen him not injured

and that was quite profound to me,

I saw him in his uniform,

smiling and yeah, it really hit me pretty hard.

I started to struggle a bit.

The image of this young man

who we loaded onto the helicopter,

he began to appear to me in,

I now know, an intrusive thought

or known as a flashback.

And I didn't know how to deal with it.

I thought, incorrectly thought

that if I would divulge this information to the military,

then I would be kicked out of the military.

And for many, many years

the only way I found to hide this

was with alcohol.

It made it easier to handle to see this image.

So, eventually I developed PTSD.

And which I'm still being helped with today.

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