SAS HERO SUR­VIVES BE­ING SHOT 3 TIMES

‘Mir­a­cle’ es­cape for sol­dier am­bushed by Tal­iban

Daily Star Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - ■ EX­CLU­SIVE by PA­TRICK WIL­LIAMS

AN SAS sergeant has sur­vived be­ing shot three times by the Tal­iban dur­ing fe­ro­cious bat­tle Afghanistan. a in

One bul­let struck the sol­dier’s hel­met, while two more hit the chest plate of his body ar­mour af­ter his con­voy was am­bushed.

The 29-year-old was left dazed af­ter an AK-47 round hit his hel­met just above his tem­ple.

He got to his feet and re­turned fire – and was al­most im­me­di­ately struck in the chest.

The SAS man moved po­si­tion and gave cov­er­ing fire to a medic who was treat­ing an in­jured Afghan sol­dier. He was then hit for the third time and floored again.

Amaz­ingly, he sur­vived the triple trauma and suf­fered just bruises to his chest and head.

Sources said it was “un­heard of” for some­one to be hit three times and sur­vive – and hailed it as “a mir­a­cle”.

The drama hap­pened in July as an SAS team was tak­ing part in a re­con­nais­sance op­er­a­tion in a Tal­iban­con­trolled re­gion. The joint SAS and Afghan Army com­mando unit had spent sev­eral days mon­i­tor­ing an area thought to be home to an en­emy com­man­der.

Their four-ve­hi­cle con­voy was mov­ing through an area close to the Tora Bora cave com­plex – where Osama bin Laden once took refuge – in Nan­ga­har prov­ince when the at­tack took place.

It be­gan when a rock­et­pro­pelled grenade hit an Afghan Army jeep, killing the driver and in­jur­ing three other com­man­dos.

The Afghan and Bri­tish sol­diers jumped out of their ve­hi­cles and ran for cover as up to 30 Tal­iban gun­men raked the area with au­to­matic fire.

SAS troop­ers re­turned fire with au­to­matic weapons, grenade launch­ers and sniper ri­fles, but the unit soon be­came pinned down.

One source said: “The sol­dier who was hit was mov­ing to a bet­ter fir­ing po­si­tion when a bul­let struck him in his US-made hel­met.

“Every­one thought he was ei­ther dead or se­ri­ously in­jured but then he got up, swore very loudly and be­gan re­turn­ing fire.”

They added: “It is un­heard of for a sol­dier to be shot three times in a sin­gle con­tact.

“There are plenty of sol­diers who have been saved by their body ar­mour and hel­met, but to be hit three times in the same bat­tle is noth­ing short of a mir­a­cle.”

“It just goes to show that the equip­ment re­ally does work.

“The hel­met was a write-off and the ce­ramic chest plate in the body ar­mour will have to be changed, es­pe­cially af­ter it was hit twice.

“But it’s go­ing to be mounted and get pride of place in­side the War­rant Of­fi­cers’ and Sergeants’ Mess at the SAS HQ in Here­ford.”

The Bri­tish and Afghan troops even­tu­ally man­aged to es­cape when two US he­li­copter gun­ships came to their res­cue and opened fire on the Tal­iban.

The Min­istry of De­fence said it does not com­ment on spe­cial forces op­er­a­tions.

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