Newkirk, a medic with 2nd Commando Regiment.
Sometimes the medics’ expertise would extend even to Taliban fighters wounded in battle with their own units.
“When it comes to medics ... arguably they’ve seen the worst of it,” said Mark Donaldson, the former SAS corporal and Victoria Cross recipient.
He worked closely with — and was patched up by — the medics in his multiple tours.
“Sometimes they’re fixing up the enemy who’s been shooting at them and trying to kill them, or civilians, or the guys that they work with day in and day out, trying to keep them alive — and sometimes they haven’t.”
The guerrilla nature of the fighting in Afghanistan, with the enemy blending in with ordinary citizens and roadside bombs one of their key weapons, meant many casualties were non-combatants.
Watts said civilians were brought to the hospital almost every day having suffered “horrific trauma”.
“Seeing little kids and family units destroyed were pretty intense moments,” he said.
“The main mechanism of injury for us while we were there was IEDS coupled with gunshots.
“There was a lot of blood around a lot of the incidents, and that metallic smell — once you’ve smelt it – never leaves you.”
Brad Watts tends to noncombatants in hospital (main image and below centre) while Cpl Tom Newkirk treats people in the field (below left and right) Pictures: Supplied