War hero told: “It’s over”

WOUNDED IN AFGHANISTAN: Soldier Robert Jack.

WOUNDED IN AFGHANISTAN: Soldier Robert Jack.

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A HIGH Peak soldier honoured for bravery in Afghanistan has been told he must leave the army after being seriously wounded on the same tour of duty.

Robert Jack, 21, was mentioned in despatches for his extreme bravery after saving the lives of his colleagues in Helmand Province last year. But just days later he was blown up by an IED or Improvised Explosive Device.

His serious injuries mean that Robert, of Chapel, is no longer physically able to serve as a front-line infantryman – his dream since childhood.

Robert was on patrol in June last year when the group were attacked by an insurgent firing a rocket-propelled grenade. Sadly, the attack wounded six of Robert’s ten colleagues but his quick action in killing the attacker prevented him firing a second round at the group and saved his and his remaining colleagues’ lives.

Robert then helped provide medical treatment to his injured comrades and assisted with their evacuation by helicopter.

Now Robert is one of seven members of the Mercian Regiment to have been awarded a mention in despatches for active extreme bravery - one of the military’s top honours.

Describing the incident for which he received his award, Robert said: “I got chosen to go out with a different regiment, the Tankies and I was on the top level of the tank. An RPG was fired at us and injured six out of eleven of us. I made my way down into the turret and before another RPG could be launched at us, I killed him (the insurgent) and then went to help with evacuating the casualties.”

Just two weeks after saving his colleagues’ lives, Robert was on patrol when he was seriously injured by the Improvised Explosive Device. His many injuries included a serious neck wound which could have seen him bleed to death in seconds had it been just a millimetre closer to an artery.

He was airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for life saving treatment, where he received a visit from Prince Charles, Colonel-in-Chief of the Mercian Regiment. And, while in hospital, he was reunited with an even more severely injured friend who he thought had been killed in an earlier battle.

Since then, Robert has made good progress to recover from his injuries, but has been left with fragments of shrapnel in his body, including in his neck. He also has shards of shrapnel close to his spine which doctors can’t remove for fear of leaving him paralysed. And because of these, he has now been medically discharged from the army, bringing to an end a long held dream of a career in the forces.

Robert joined the army shortly after leaving Chapel-en-le-Frith High school and went to the prestigious Army Foundation college in Harrogate. He has previously served in Iraq but this was his first tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Robert’s mum Margery Oliver, said: “I’m extremely proud. I was proud of him before anyway but so many people have told us that Robert was an extremely good soldier. We’re proud of him for pulling through his injuries too.”