9/11 A Hidden Legacy BBC Scotland Investigates


9/11 A Hidden Legacy

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Jackie Bird investigates the terrorist attack's legacy for Scotland's servicemen - the growing number of amputees returning from Afghanistan.


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Transcript


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What we're going to do is difficult. It's finely balanced. It's

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dangerous. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 drew

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Britain's servicemen and women to a war 3,500 miles away. I wish you

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good luck, God's speed and I will stand at your shoulder throughout.

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For the past 12 months, I've been following Scotland's only commander

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unit to explore the hidden cost of the conflict.

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Here in Afghanistan, the realities of war are ever present. There are

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some casualties and a life-changing part of their future. This is the

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November 5th, 2008 and the battle Royal Marine Corporal Jay Hare has

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stepped on an improvised explosive device. The bomb has severed his

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leg below the knee. He has lost an The calm efficiency of the hospital

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team is evidence of more than just professionalism. Dealing with such

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traumatic injuries is part of their routine. Ten years on, limb loss is

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one of the signature injuries of Three years after the explosion,

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the man having surgery in the field hospital is back on his feet and

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dealing with his injuries. What sort of physical and emotional

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readjustment is needed when one day you're a fit young man and the next

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you have to start rebuilding your life?

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Jay lives near Arbroath with his wife and his two young daughters.

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He joined the marines a year before 9/11.

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When Jay went to Afghanistan, in 2008, he was an experienced

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corporal. But on foot patrol in the Sangin valley his life changed.

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It is unmistakeable when it happens to you. The pain registered,

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anything like that. It was ringing. It was as if the world had slowed

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down in many ways and there was an echoy pinging noise. I could not

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see anything. I could hear. I could kind of speak, but I couldn't see

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anything. Watching that footage of yourself, what was in your mind

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when you are looking at that? was upsetting, but I was seeing

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what the extent of my injuries were from the point of injury. To see

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what the lads had seen on the ground while I was lying there. I

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wanted to see that and compare how I looked then to know.

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-- to now. And I look at the injuries to my

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face, for instance, that was pretty horrific. Where would I start?

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Where would anyone start? Ten years ago, military hospitals

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in Britain were closing. Headley Court in Surrey was a former care

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centre for World War II pilots. Today, it's the visible embodiment

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of what a decade in Afghanistan has cost in flesh and bones. All the

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servicemen and women who have lost limbs and suffered life-changing

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injuries come through the doors. First to get prosthetic arms and

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legs fitted, then how to use them, and then for routine check-ups. Jay

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has made numerous visits here. From his home in Arbroath, it's a 1,000-

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mile round-trip. How are you getting on? Not too bad.

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Is it one of the older ones? It is getting a bit lose now. I could do

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with a new one. The standard of care for amputees

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at Headley Court is world class. But can this level of care be

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maintained in the outside world? This is state-of-the-art technology

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in terms of this when you compare it to the NHS. This is much, much

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more advanced? You are looking at a couple of thousand for something

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like that. If I was working in the NHS, I would have to make a special

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case for funding. It wouldn't be something that I

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would give out, like I could do here. Financially it's well above

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anything you would get in the NHS, certainly.

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As the majority of Afghanistan's wounded are still being treated

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within the military, promises that they'll receive comparable levels

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of care on the NHS are yet untested. There are fears it will be left to

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charities to provide the extra funding. There's a socket - getting

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that right... What is clear is that for the hundreds of young men like

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Jay who come through headly, amputation does not mean a life of

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dependence. They want to challenge themselves and confound the medics.

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That determination can have its drawbacks. You must have to reign

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them in sometimes? Yes. Especially people like Jay who are determined

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to get back to their work and do all the activities they were before.

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They are desperate to get on with it straight away. These are young

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guys coming in here. They are 18, 20's. When they have these injuries

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they have them for the rest of their lives. What might be right

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for them in their 20's and what we can get them back to in their 20's

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is not necessarily what they can do Despite his injuries, and until

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he's discharged, Jay is still a Marine with 45 Commando. Scotland's

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only commando unit. His comrades are preparing to go

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back to Afghanistan and are due to leave in less than a month.

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For 80% of the 700 men leaving here, Hold it there. Put your heels

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against the curb for me. Fold your arms and look straight into the

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lens for me. That's great! As casually as we on

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civvy street might queue for office ID snaps the Marines line up for

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the photographs which will be released to the media if they are

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killed in action. The grim likelihood is that some of these

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young men also risk becoming part of the Afghan legacy of amputees.

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Don MacLean is a Royal Marine reservist. By day he is a car

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salesman. He faces the same risks. For the next seven months he will

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leave the car showroom to put his life on the line.

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What's the relationship like between the regulars and the

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reservists? It's good. Tom is smiling. Now you answer that.

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Obviously we have mutual respect for each other, but.... It's good.

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It's friendly banter, shall we say? There's no getting away from that.

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And your fears, because the Marines have lost quite a few guys? They

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have. That is just part of the job. If you let it worry you, then

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you're not going to operate effectively. It's part of the job.

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The young Marines of 45 Commando don't have to look far for

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reminders of what might happen to them.

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Less than a month after Jay Hare was injured last time Paul Baz

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Barratt was to suffer some of the worst injuries of the war. His best

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friend Sergeant Major Steff Moran was one of the first on the scene.

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The Sergeant said he'd spent a lot of time in Afghanistan. It was some

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of the worst injuries he had seen in any one man.

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When I saw the nature of his injuries I thought he would be

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lucky to pull out of this. I had numerous injuries. My right

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leg, which was traumaticly amputated, just above the knee.

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My left leg was hanging off from just below my hip.

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Numerous internal injuries, a collapsed lung. Numerous broken

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bones in the body. The left hand side sustained crush injuries. Left

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pelvis, left leg, which was hanging off as well. My right hand side,

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sustained the blast injuries, which had the collapsed lung. A lot of

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damage to the right arm. Lost numerous fingers. My right ear

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and my right eye as well. So severe were his injuries the

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doctors in Afghanistan could do no more for him. He was sent home to

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hospital in Birmingham, to his family, not expected to live.

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couldn't talk. I was just, you know, couldn't control my tears. I was

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just so quiet. Then these two doctors, surgeons came, and do you

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remember they both stood at the bottom of the bed and they went,

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"Somebody watching you up there." A few people said that, that....

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doctors in bastion, they said they didn't expect him to live. They

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were job smacked when some came back on leave. They were gob-

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smacked he had survived. Dawn and 45 Commando, the unit face

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their final challenge before being deployed to Afghanistan. An 11-

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mile speed march carrying 40 pounds. It's one of the tests they have to

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pass to initially win their green berets. This march has special

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significance. It's the last time the unit will be together before

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they go to war. Quick march. For their commanding

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officer, the message is crucial. don't want to take the spring out

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of the step. I don't want to flatten the champagne. I want to

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say we've only played touch rugby so far. The match is ahead. I

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thought roughly the normal length, sort of seven minute s. It will be

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easier for them to cope with because they'll be outside. They

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will have just run 11 miles. So will you and I.

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Exactly! The Royal Marines pride themselves

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on their fitness. They are the physical elite. They know the

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insurgents IED can rob them of that which they most prize.

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Baz and Jay, both serving members of 45 have come to see their

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comrades off. That's all you wanted to do was be in the military, be a

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soldier, be a Marine and this has happened to you.

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Especially if you joined to be a career soldier. That's extremely

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upsetting in itself. Something you've always wanted to do just

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taken away from you, in a click of the fingers.

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Baz was aware his presence on the beach embodied the cost of the 9/11

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decade. It was a time of reflection for me.

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A lot was reflection. A lot was wishing it was me going out.

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A lot of it was wishing them all well.

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I wanted to be there. That was the thing. I wanted to be there to show

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the lads, look it doesn't matter how bad you think things are.

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A lot of Marines want to be Spartans, physically fit, be

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warriors, ready to go anywhere at the drop of a hat. You may look at

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yourself and think, you're not a With 45 gone, bfplt az and -- Baz

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and Jay have to focus on their future. For Baz it's a battle for

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physical mobility. There is also a job for him closer to home. It is a

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hidden treasure. And it is! Baz has been working to build a

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garden at the Marine's base. A place where wounded commandos can

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find peace and reflect. He's only been out of his

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wheelchair for a matter of weeks. One of my first challenges, believe

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it or not was to be able to stand up and have a pee again.

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But, you know, when I look at things like that, I have to thank

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my lucky stars, because where I am right now, it could always be worse.

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There's another challenge you have set yourself? The next challenge

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will be walking 10kms for March For Heroes. It's a walk in the park.

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a couple of months time. A couple of months time. I will not ask if

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you think you are going to do it? Failure's not an option. Walking

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10kms for his garden will be a Jay lost his leg below the knee so

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learning to walk again was less of a problem than for Baz. The blast

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of the IED caused terrible injuries to Jay's face, it was effectively

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blown off. He lost an eye and wears a prosthetic nose. Whfrpblgts asked

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what would I like to work on first, my face or my leg, I said my leg.

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think knowing what I know now, I would have gone for facial

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reconstruction first. But Jay now has a dilemma. He has to decide

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whether to have major reconstructive surgery. We're about

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to show you graphic pictures of Jay's initial facial wounds.

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They're disturbing. But to fully understand what he's gone through

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and why more surgery is so daunting, they have to be seen.

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Confronted with such devastating injuries, the surgeons were

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masterful. But rebuilding Jay's nose will mean growing tissue on

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another part of his face. If he goes ahead, it means in his

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struggle to look like his old self again, he will have to endure

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further disfigurement. It is something that always reminds me

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every day, when I have a shave or twice a day, I have to sort my make

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up out, you know, it's constantly there. I'm constantly looking in

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the mirror. It played on my mind. That's what probably made me an

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angry kind of person sometimes. People staring at you, thinking

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that people are staring at you, looking at old pictures of yourself

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and not recognising yourself in the mirror sometimes. It's May, and I

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join 4-5 Commando, who are now in Afghanistan's Nad-e'Ali south. They

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know the greatest danger is from IEDs. We'll be behind each other.

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If there's any prominent diversions off the path, if you see a scuff,

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if you're not sure where someone's stepped where they went, shout up,

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where did you go, where was it mate and we'll let you know.

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Caution is the watch word as X-Ray company begins a patrol. As a

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result of roadside bombed, over 200 British servicemen and women have

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become amputees, half suffering multiple limb loss. A marine

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reservist Don MacLean is a long way from the car showroom forecourt of

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his day job. The first patrol I did, you think that everything you stand

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on is going to explode. And you are, you know, your senses are

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heightened and you're looking round. Then you start to calm down. It's

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good to be able to establish what is normal out there, because if

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things aren't normal then you know something's going to happen. There

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was a strange feeling. Knowing that any time you could get shot at or I

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suppose blown up, if you like. avoid the IE dfrzs -- IEDs, the

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Marines try to find safe routes and then walk in each other's footsteps.

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On some of the routes we have bettary shuerpbs that it's clear

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because we have clear today a lot. We are absolutely following the

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footsteps of the man in front. Carrying as much as 100 pounds of

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equipment and body armour, with temperatures in the high 40s, they

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know each time they venture out into the Green Zone, they're just

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one foot step away from disaster. If it's going to happen, then it's

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going to happen. I suppose that was the mentality of a lot of us. If

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it's going to happen, it's going to happen. They fear not being brave.

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Those who have not been in a situation that's really tested them,

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I think the deepest fear is that they don't do as well as they can

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do. Ten years after 9/11 got us into Afghanistan, Britain and

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America are searching for a way out. It's not the first time great

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powers have come unstuck here. 45's base has a history of its own. This

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fort was built by the British 130 years ago. After them came the

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Soviets. They were here for ten years and lost 15,000 men in the

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process. Evefrplgly their exit strategy was to train up the Afghan

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security forces and leave them to Which sounds familiar. Now this

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same force is home not only to the Marines, but to the Afghan

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nationals on whose fast-track military training the UK's 21st

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century exit strategy is based. This is what military strategy now

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looks like in Afghanistan. At least it's what the Marines are trying to

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achieve in their little piece of Helmand. Their aim is to get on a

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level playing field with the Afghan Security Forces and form a

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partnership and then hand over control. Like all sporting

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metaphors, it's simplistic, maybe unrealistic, but at this stage in

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the campaign, it's all they've got. Spending time here and watching 45

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at work and at play, it's hard not to fear for these fit young Marines,

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who could join the growing number of seriously injured. They put

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themselves at risk every time they step outside this base. There's a

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glorious vanity about them all that I love. I'm sure shop keepers

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around Britain enjoying Royal Marines buying fancy clothes as

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well to perch on top of their perfect fi seeks. There's a mix of

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vanity and ruggedness and hardness. I mean some of them are just, I

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think of Olympic athlete status Afghanistan has taken a terrible

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toll these last ten years. Baz knows he's been given a second

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chance. You'll have all this dangling down here. You hold it

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with your left hand. But daddy can't. So all we do is simply

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back... He wasn't expected to live, let alone walk again. We started

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fly-fishing all three of us. To be able to do that, to take the girls,

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be able to do things with them, it's unbelievable. Nice and gently

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like that. I have to correct my walking now to

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be able to walk my girls down the aisle I suppose. I would never have

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believed anybody to have said "You'll be able to walk 10k".

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10k remains Baz's immediate challenge. Corporal Jay Hare has

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found solace in an unlikely setting. The wounds of his Afghanistan were

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physical and psychological. When I was first injured, up till probably

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the year-and-a-half point, I was still very angry, very upset, yeah

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maybe, drank a little bit too heavily sometimes, thought too much

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about mates that I'd lost. It could have been me, feeling sorry for

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myself. I know it probably upset people, close people, close friends

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around me, by having the evil tongue and the way I was acting.

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His search has taken him to the rolling hills of Royal Deeside to

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Horseback UK, a charity that teaches wounded servicemen and

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women to ride. If you're missing a leg or two legs, these things have

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got four. They can get you up a hill and move you at 30mph etc and

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more. If you're good on a horse, you can dart around, you still have

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that adrenaline. It calms you down. You have to be calm around the

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horse. How do you feel when you're on a horse, going 30mph, do you

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feel I'm Jay pre-the IED again? don't really think that. I think

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Jay don't come off at this speed! You don't want to go back in

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hospital. One of the thaings that we've seen in the last ten years,

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guys making it home who wouldn't have made it home ten years ago.

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With that comes a responsibility, in my opinion. If you're going to

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fix a man, you better give them a fixture. It's our responsibility as

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a society to be imaginetive about how we think of these young men and

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women's future and take some time and effort in helping them

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transition from the military world, which they're going to have to

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leave through injury, to the civilian world, which is very, very

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different to the intensity of Afghanistan. Right leg on, looking

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where you want to go. The horses have helped Jay overcome his demons.

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Now he's teaching others. When you get to where I am now, start

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turning and looking to where you want to go. He's ready to confront

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his future. I'm 90% sure that I'll go for facial reconstruction, but

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that was something that I either did immediately or the longer it

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took, it was harder and then the more I was thinking about it. I had

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to come to terms with it in my own mind and I'm probably going to look

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a lot worse before I look a lot better. Jay has regained his self-

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assurance and a new set of skills, building a life after the military.,

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Back in Helmand, the view from 45's HQ lookout point is a world away

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from a war zone. When do you go to school? One o'clock, until? The

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Marines have been making new young friends and settling into their

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routine. Armed contacts with the enemy are few. 45 don't know if

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this is a lull before the traditional summer fighting season

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begins or something more hopeful. But the threat of IEDs is constant,

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as the Marines were about to discover.

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The message over the radio which is "contact IED strike", and it's one

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of those moments that turns everyone's blood to ice. You're

0:27:500:27:54

hanging on every word to see if there are casualties. When someone

0:27:540:28:00

steps on an IED you clearly think the worst. A reservist, Don MacLean,

0:28:000:28:05

had become the latest casualty of the war. I was the second man in

0:28:050:28:12

the patrol. As we came through the, it was very high roots, it was like

0:28:120:28:15

elephant grass you have out there. You're fighting your way through

0:28:150:28:22

that. Next thing I know is there's a loud bang. I fell, hit the ground.

0:28:220:28:26

I remember lying there and then just feeling, there was a bit of a

0:28:260:28:31

delay in terms of shock. Suddenly you feel the pain. Not all the

0:28:310:28:35

explosives had gone off. Really it was just the detonator and the

0:28:350:28:40

pressure pad that had blown him onto his back and broken several

0:28:400:28:46

bones in his foot. The greatest relief to everybody was how lucky

0:28:460:28:52

we all were that to step on an IED and get away with it without

0:28:520:29:02
0:29:020:29:05

Good running mechanics, yeah, driving with the arms. Imagine that

0:29:050:29:08

balloon pulling your head up, keeping your spine nice and

0:29:080:29:16

straight. And last little push now to the finish.

0:29:160:29:22

To build his endurance for the 10k walk to come, Baz is training hard.

0:29:220:29:27

What about the 10k, how big an effort is going to be required for

0:29:270:29:32

him to do that? It's massive. It's absolutely massive, bearing in mind

0:29:320:29:35

at the minute he's doing a mile- and-a-half. The unfortunate thing

0:29:350:29:39

is because of how complex his injuries are, he often gets

0:29:390:29:44

infections and illness, things like that. Obviously, it's setting him

0:29:440:29:48

back with his training for the 10k. In the last few years IEDs have

0:29:480:29:51

become more powerful, designed to increase the mutilation they

0:29:510:29:56

inflict. One of the operations was where they remove ribs from my

0:29:560:30:02

ribcage to rebuild the hand bone. Unfortunately that died. An the

0:30:020:30:08

only way to keep my hand alive was to put my hand inside my tummy.

0:30:080:30:12

It's a technique they've used since the First World War. I stayed like

0:30:120:30:19

that for three to four weeks with my hand in my tummy and then let

0:30:190:30:23

the skin attach itself to my hand and removed it. I could have said I

0:30:230:30:30

wanted to be like Peter Andre, instead of getting the abs put in,

0:30:300:30:37

I got them sculpted instead. Just kidding. I've got scars everywhere

0:30:370:30:41

as you can see. Don MacLean, despite being dubbed the luckiest

0:30:410:30:46

man in Helmand, after stepping on an IED is facing more surgery. He's

0:30:460:30:53

already had six operations on his foot, but the surgeons pronose is

0:30:530:31:00

includes devastating news. Because I'm likely to have pain when I walk

0:31:000:31:06

and obviously, arthritis further down the line, that the best thing

0:31:060:31:11

to do is either to fuse my bones where then I walk with a bad limp

0:31:110:31:18

because I can't flex my foot as I could now, or ultimately it be

0:31:180:31:27

holding me back too much and the best thing to do is amputate it.

0:31:270:31:31

And you're feelings on potentially losing your foot? Probably cross

0:31:310:31:35

that bridge when I come to it. I have thought about it and it's not

0:31:350:31:40

as scary as it was. I'm sure that might change when they go to say,

0:31:400:31:43

this is going to be the best way to have a quality of life that you

0:31:440:31:49

want, so it's just take that, as I say, cross that bridge when we come

0:31:490:31:59
0:31:590:32:12

The roadside bombs that mutilate also kill. The IEDs account for

0:32:120:32:15

more than half of the deaths of British servicemen and women in

0:32:150:32:24

Afghanistan. A vast slab of granite will make up the centrepiece of the

0:32:240:32:28

marines memorial garden that Baz has been working on. On it is

0:32:280:32:32

etched the name of every Royal Marine from 45 who's been killed in

0:32:320:32:37

service. On their last two tours of Afghanistan, 13 names were added to

0:32:370:32:41

that list. A fair few names on there that I

0:32:410:32:47

know. It could have been my name on that memorial stone. Somedays you

0:32:470:32:51

think, "There's things that are worse than dying, living the rest

0:32:510:32:55

of your life with a disability that you will have to take care with."

0:32:550:33:00

But it makes me stronger, because if I can't do it, then nobody can

0:33:000:33:10
0:33:100:33:17

It's the day of the 10k walk and there's a large turnout in support

0:33:170:33:26

of the garden. For all his training, to date the furthest Baz has

0:33:260:33:32

managed to walk is two kilometres. His walk starts and to encourage

0:33:320:33:41

him on, his dad and his daughter Rhea are coming too.

0:33:410:33:46

The day will be a huge challenge for Baz's rehabilitation and his

0:33:460:33:55

self-esteem. Oh, thank you! Can I have a kiss.

0:33:550:34:01

Thank you very much. Walking with a heavy prosthetic leg means Baz uses

0:34:010:34:08

far more energy than an able-bodied person. That's 107 minutes, so

0:34:080:34:14

that's... Watch the kerb. That's probably the longest I've actually

0:34:140:34:23

walked in one session. Steady boy. Morning. Keep up the good work.

0:34:230:34:32

Thank you very much. It's swollen up. You can tell my stump. It's not

0:34:320:34:42

in the socket properly. After four kilometres, the stump is beginning

0:34:420:34:50

to rub raw. How do? Baz's trainer Sam is

0:34:500:34:55

monitoring his condition. There's no chance that I'll give up

0:34:550:35:05
0:35:050:35:14

or give in. It's not in my nature. Spwaz concerned. -- Sam is

0:35:140:35:17

concerned. Baz is due to have an operation soon. Any infection could

0:35:170:35:27
0:35:270:35:41

How painful is it Baz? A little bit. Baz battles on.

0:35:410:35:51
0:35:510:35:52

Three hours in, and he's forced to take to his wheelchair.

0:35:520:35:59

To his dad, he's unbowed. To do what you've done, you walked

0:36:000:36:09
0:36:100:36:10

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 41 seconds

0:36:100:36:51

He is adamant he'll walk across that line. I have been told he's

0:36:510:37:01
0:37:010:37:02

not to overdo it, but he would just go on, any way. I'm very proud.

0:37:020:37:12
0:37:120:37:14

All right? It's all right. It's taken five hours and a massive

0:37:140:37:22

effort. Baz's triumph of marks the end of

0:37:220:37:27

another stage in his remarkable journey. He'll soon be back in

0:37:270:37:31

hospital awaiting a major operation, which he hopes will put him further

0:37:310:37:41

along his road to rehabilitation. Three-and-a-half -- 3,500 miles

0:37:410:37:45

away a young commando from 45 has become a new statistic. He stepped

0:37:450:37:53

on an IED and has lost three limbs. In a sense, the number of

0:37:530:37:58

amputations is the hidden legacy of the Afghanistan war.

0:37:580:38:05

It's not the sombre spectacle of a frontline vigil. Tributes for a

0:38:050:38:08

fallen comrade. It is not the ultimate sacrifice.

0:38:080:38:13

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Jackie Bird investigates the terrorist attack's hidden legacy for Scotland's servicemen; the growing number of amputees returning from Afghanistan. Given exclusive access to 45 Commando Royal Marines over nine months, BBC Scotland follows the moving stories of the military men and women who have to cope after suffering serious and life-changing injuries. The programme uses film taken in the field hospital moments after Corporal Jay Hare stepped on a bomb. It unravels his story as he tries to put his life together three years on, now with a prosthetic leg and profound facial injuries. The film also follows other injured veterans, and while filming with 45 Commando in Afghanistan, captures the story of Don Maclean before and after he steps on an IED.


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