LISBURN soldier who recently returned from a tour of Afghanistan
has described the daily dangers facing troops in the war zone.
Phillip Stout, who was on a six month
deployment with the Royal Irish Regiment, has said it was just
"luck" if you made it back alive.
22-year-old Phillip, who is a former pupil of
Brownlee Primary and Lisnagarvey High School, was injured whilst
serving in Helmand Province when he was struck by an RPG (Rocket
Propelled Grenade) in August, leaving him with severe bruising,
swelling and cracked ribs.
was also personally affected during his time there when his best
friend lost both legs whilst serving in the region. Speaking
this week Phillip said: "It is just luck if you come back
alright. You can be out on patrol and decide not to check down
an alley and go straight on instead, and then later a civilian,
maybe with a donkey, will go down that alley and set something
off. "Another time we decided not to go straight ahead, going
down back alleys instead and we came across the Taliban. One of
our guys was shot in the shoulder in the attack but if we had
gone the other way they would have seen us first and we would
have walked straight into an ambush." Phillip has had a three
week break since returning from Afghanistan and will now be
going back to work at the RIR's Shropshire base.
He attended the Homecoming Parade in Belfast
last Sunday and said the event, which attracted thousands of
well-wishers, made him feel 'proud'.
couldn't hear any of the commands or the band, any Phillip
said. "We attended parades in England as well but the one here
definitely had more people. There was a different type of
atmosphere, the crowd were more enthusiastic."
Phillip's mum June said the family, brother
Mark, 19, and sister Rachel, 15, are delighted to have him back
home from Afghanistan.
"We're so glad he's back. There were times I
would be speaking to him on the phone and I could hear the
explosions or shooting in the background and he would say, 'I
have to go, I have to go, they're shooting', and then I wouldn't
hear anything else from him and I would be sitting wondering
what was happening to him.
"His battalion only lost one member, which
was terrible for his family, but it was fortunate there was only
and his unit were patrolling the front line with equipment
weighing around 80lbs in temperatures reaching 50 degrees
They were under constant attack from the
Taliban, and often found themselves in extremely difficult
"There was one occasion when we were attacked
from four sides and had to radio for assistance we had to use a
plane to blow up a Taliban compound.
"If you were out for more than 24 hours you
had to find a house to stay in because you can't stay out in the
open as they will find you."
One of Phillip's main objectives whilst in
Afghanistan was assisting the Afghan National Army (ANA). It was
whilst out on patrol in August that members of the ANA came
across the Taliban and radioed for back-up. Phillip and his unit
went out to assist the ANA and they soon found themselves in the
middle of a battle.
"We went to give support and as we came down
the road there was 600 metres of open field. As we crossed over
the open field they ambushed us. They had a compound to the left
and one to the right and a corn field in between so we couldn't
really see them. They were firing heavy machine guns, light
machine guns and RPG's."
Phillip was struck by an RPG in the chest and
had to spend four days in hospital following the attack.
"There were three or four bits in total that
struck me, I was hit just above the heart and on the collarbone.
I think there were quite a few firing at us and there were two
on the roof firing RPGs. The rest of the team managed to take
them out as there were no rockets fired after that. We were too
close for air support but we managed to pull
Phillip concluded, "Joining the army was
something I always wanted to do and I am glad that I
have had the chance to go there.
I may have to go back in a year or so, you
never know when you will be called upon, but I am proud to have
served out there."