Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Rifleman James McKie returns Taliban's grenade

Question: "What does it feel like to pick up a live grenade?"

Answer: "When I saw the grenade there and thought, aw, I just hope it doesn't hurt too much. I knew that I had to get it away from us and, as I picked it up I thought that, if this doesn't come off or I hadn't done this, the result's going to be exactly the same. My main thoughts were for the other guys, Captain Kerr and Rifleman Holcombe because we had lost Corporal Green the day before and I wasn't prepared to see another guy from my platoon get hurt, even if that meant that I got hurt myself."

These are the words of Rifleman James McKie of Reconnaissance Platoon, 3 Rifles when recounting how, in the middle of a fire-fight, he picked up a Taliban grenade which had landed amongst his patrol and hurled it off the roof where the guys had taken up position. The grenade exploded on its way down into the alley just a couple of feet away. This act most probably saved the lives of all three of them.

When asked whether he would be going back to Sangin straight away, Rfn Mckie replied: "I can't wait to get back there. I really miss the other guys and it would absolutely break me if another one of them got hurt while I was out here waiting to repatriate Greeny. I'm sure they understand but it doesn't make it any easier for me. If anything, if we can get a few more of them, it's worth it."

Talking to the media back home in New Zealand, James said: "I love soldiering. I love being here in Afghanistan. Obviously bad things happen and I can't go back and change it, but what I can do is try and stop things happening around me. As far as the military experience goes, this is the ultimate for a career soldier."

Rifleman McKie said of the incident, in Sangin on March 3rd: "People keep telling me how brave I am. I'd like to think that anyone in that situation would have done the same or something similar because you can't just sit there and let yourself or other people get hurt."

Whatever you may think, James, everyone else thinks that was a bloody brave thing to do! What a hero!

. . . . . .

Sadly Rifleman Jonathon Allott, another guy from Rfn McKie's battalion was killed a short time after this interview.

BBC: British soldier throws back a grenade to save lives
TVNZ: NZ hero back from Afghanistan in May