by STACEY HEANEY
Lance Corporal David Holdsworth with his wife
Alison who was on hand to add her congratulations after the
TA soldier receives his medal from
A LISBURN soldier has spoken of his pride at
serving his country in Afghanistan after he was honoured at a
ceremony in Hillsborough Castle.
Lance Corporal David Holdsworth, a member of
the Territorial Army, was recognised with the presentation of an
Operational Medal for his service with Operation Herrick by
General Sir Richard Dannatt.
David, 33, who previously worked in Lisburn
City Council's Leisure Services Department, has served with the
TA for just over three years.
Having previously been deployed to Kenya,
Germany and various parts of Europe; David took part in his
first mission in a war zone when he joined Operation Herrick in
Helmand Province last year.
David explained: "I joined as a regular
soldier after leaving school and had gone to Kenya and across
Europe but I had never been on an operation."
However, last year David had the opportunity
to go to the region where he worked as both gunner and driver,
helping to keep isolated forward operating bases supplied with
essential services and ammunition.
"It was very daunting going to Afghanistan,
anybody who says it's not is telling fibs. At the same time I
was looking forward to it, to be able to put my skills into
"I had seen it on the news and read about it
in papers so I was also full of pride to be going and doing
David, who is married to Alison and has three
young children, continued: "The hardest part was leaving my
family. They are the ones who keep you going but we kept in
touch with letters and emails and phone calls. You really look
forward to coming back from a couple of weeks in the desert to
getting a phone call, but it is equally hard for anybody who is
David left his Lisburn home in January 2007
to go to England for training before spending six months in
Afghanistan, returning in September.
He explained, "I was in the Force Protection
Troop, with the Four Logistics Support Regiment and was deployed
all over Helmand Province carrying out different tasks. I was
with the Royal Marines, the Artillery and the Pioneers, so it
was very varied. It was a good experience to see the whole
Being deployed in one of the most dangerous
parts of the world is obviously not without risk.
"We got mortared a few times and got shot at.
The scariest time out there was one my last mission, the day
before I was due to leave, when a company got hit by a suicide
bomb. It hit the convoy in front so we could see the whole
effects but we just had to drive through it, that's something
you learn; if something happens you just have to keep going."
David said he wouldn't rule out a return to
Afghanistan, explaining that he had made some life-long friends
from his experience.
"I feel very proud to have served my
country,' he said. "There are kids out there at 18 and 19 doing
exactly the same job and I found that awe inspiring.
"Being there was some of the best times and
some of the worst times the scariest thing that you could do
nothing about were the road side bombs. You have to be vigilant,
you don't want to be driving over a mine so it is always in your
mind, but if something happens your training kicks in and you
just keep going."
David says his time with the TA has given him
life lessons which he will always remember.
He said, "If anybody was interested in the TA
it gives you great opportunities to see countries you normally
wouldn't and to learn some important life skills."