It’s good to see John Wilson in the news and carving out a new career for himself at Transport for London.
John, a London Regiment soldier with whom I deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, was severely injured when he triggered a victim operated improvised explosive device (VOIED) while on a foot patrol. John lost both his legs in the detonation.
I was also on the ground that day on another task just a couple of clicks away and heard the blast. We knew one of our colleagues was severely injured when a MERT helicopter flew overhead to recover the casualty. My patrol was required to stay on the ground overnight so it wasn’t until we returned to base the next day that I discovered it was John. It’s always harder when it’s one of your own and I was devastated for him.
A couple of weeks later, while on R&R, I was able to visit him at Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham. We met again at the end of the tour when John was sufficiently recovered that he was able to attend the London Regiment Homecoming parade. On both occasions I found his courage, optimism and good humour in adversity to be inspirational.
Like all soldiers suffering life changing injuries John’s road to recovery has been long and hard. I recall being particularly moved when John declared that having painstakingly trained himself to walk again he found that he had nowhere to walk to.
Consequently, it’s wonderful to learn that John now has a full-time job at TfL and a reason to get out of bed each morning. I’m going to hazard a guess that there can be few men who enjoy their walk to work more than him.
SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand
‘The best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read’
Frank Ledwidge, bestselling author of Losing Small Wars and Investment in Blood
‘SPIN ZHIRA vividly conveys the disjointed essence of modern warfare and the impossibility of balancing the adrenaline of combat with ‘normal’ life. This book brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick Hennessey, bestselling author of The Junior Officers’ Reading Club and Kandak
‘If you want to read about political and military success in Afghanistan, this book isn’t for you. If you want a fresh perspective from someone who is not a career officer and who is brave enough to bare his soul, then SPIN ZHIRA is a must read.’
Lt Col Richard Dorney, bestselling author of The Killing Zoneand An Active Service
SOLDIER The official magazine of the British Army
‘A journey of love, service and adventure. Excellent.’