a BRAVE local soldier has just returned from Afghanistan to speak about his experience - and is calling for more Gainsborough people to sign up for the reserves.
Darren Smith, 39, from Lea has been in the Territorial Army Reserves for five years and has just returned from his second tour of Afghanistan where he has been for seven months.
He is also a former-regular soldier who has done four tours of Ireland.
The Territorial Army is made up of regular people with regular jobs, ready to serve as fully trained soldiers.
Now, Darren says that the need to new recruits in the reserves is as great as ever.
“My job was carry out vehicle patrols and go around the battle space and make sure that the check points were all OK,” he said. “I also had to protect the commanding officer from the enemy. IEDs were everywhere and we came under fire. It was very dangerous.”
He continued: “As well as looking out for the Taliban, we also had to be careful for green on blue attacks.”
“You’ve got to be on your guard all of the time. The adrenaline was so high and it could get very nerve-wracking.”
Darren said that he and his fellow troops would often work long 10 - 24 hour days but that it was a very worthwhile job.
“Everyone out there is doing an absolutely fantastic job,” he said.
“People don’t seem to realise how long the days are out there, but there’s always something to be done and you can really see the difference that we’ve made in certain areas where the people have started to look after themselves.”
The Gainsborough dad and builder argues that people should not underestimate the important role that the reserves play out in the battlefield.
“With the reserves, the regular troops would really struggle out in Afghanistan,” he said. “When we mobilise, we’re doing the exact same jobs with the same training as they are. The reserves call on their life experience as civilians and really make a difference. I’ve been out there with firemen, joiners and all sorts of trades. My building skills came in handy on many occasions.”
He added: “We’re recruiting for younger lads and experienced men to come forward and join us out there. There are a lot of great opportunities out there for reserves in the TA.”
For more information on the Territorial Army call 0845 600 8080, 01522 524097 or visit www.army.mod.uk