THE Commanding Officers of 1SCOTS paid a glowing tribute to his “courageous” troops yesterday following their return home from Afghanistan.
Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Herbert OBE, who lost three men and saw another dozen injured in their six month tour, thanked them personally for their efforts amid some of the fiercest fighting of the war.
Speaking at Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh, he said: “It’s great to be back to see my family but as a Commanding Officer it is great to see the men being reunited with their families.
“Unfortunately we did lose three men and many have been seriously injured.
“If anything it makes us more determined to achieve as much as we can while we are out there.
“I could not have asked for more dedicated, hard-working or courageous group to command and I thank all ranks for what they have achieved on this tour.”
The Royal Scots Borderers, the 1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland, lost Lance Corporal Joseph Pool who was killed in action following an exchange of fire with insurgents on 5th September 2010.
Two other members of the Regiment were killed in February shortly before the main party arrived, Corporal John Moore, 22, from Lanarkshire and Private Sean McDonald, 22, from Edinburgh.
They will be remembered as part of Homecoming parades to take place throughout the course of this month.
The parades are on 9 October at Noon in Galashiels, 13 October at Noon in Linlithgow, Colinton on 15 October at 10:30am and Edinburgh’s Royal Mile on 16 October at Noon followed by a medals parade at Holyrood Park.
It will be among their last duties before some well deserved rest and relaxation time – which some plan to spend together.
Private Shaun Garrett, Private Sheldon Hunt and Private Jason Robertson along with three other Royal Scots Borderers have grown so close fighting alongside each other, they want to enjoy their rest time together too.
Private Shaun Garrett, 18, from Stranraer, Dumfries & Galloway, said: “We were in training together and we all get on great so it will be good to go on holiday.”
But Private Garrett, 18, is also happy to be back to sleep in his own bed and get some homemade food.
He added: “It’s great to be back. Getting back into your own bed is the best feeling.
“We sleep in a camp bed when we are away which are very uncomfy.
“I’m not going to miss eating rations because we had them for seven months. You get quite hungry too.
“When I got back my mum made my favourite meal of spaghetti bolognaise.”
But despite having his holiday to look forward to, Private Hunt, 23, from South Africa said it is Afghanistan he will crave most.
He said: “I loved it there it was great.
“But I’m also glad to be home to spend some time with my friends and family and my dog.”
Private Robertson, 22, from East Kilbride, has a little daughter Ellie Caven, who is three.
He said: “It’s definitely great to be back. Ellie was a bit strange with me at the beginning but then she was climbing up on my leg.
“My mum, dad and little brother came to see me getting off the bus but my daughter was in her bed.
“When we got into the hall there was a massive cheer, it was a great feeling.”
When talking of the Afghan army he said: “They are actually okay. Some work harder than others but that’s the same with any battalion.
“I actually made friends with some of them and if I was to go back I would like to work with them again.”
“When I hear than someone has been injured it does make it more real but they way I look at it is then if it’s my time then it’s my time.
Something could happen to me here I could be involved in an accident or something could happen at the dancing.
Many of the soldiers who have families feel that it is harder for those that they have left behind.
Lance Corporal Andy Campbell, 27, from Edinburgh, has a little daughter Kelsey who is three. He said: “It is great to be back. Every time I phoned her she went to score the day off of her calendar.
“It is challenging. We were embedded with the Afghan army.
“But my wife has obviously got the challenge of dealing with the kids while I’m away.”
He also has an 18-month-old son, Christian.
He added “When I left he was just crawling but now he is walking and talking.”
Private Ignatius Mizuh, 36, from Edinburgh, has two sons, Roy, five months and Ray, two-years-old.
He said: “I am very happy to be back because when we are out there we are scared that we are not going to come back.
“It’s hard for my wife because she thinks that we are going to get killed.
“It’s good to be back to take off some of the burden.”
Around 400 soldiers were deployed to the Helmand Province in March as part of the 4 Mechanised Brigade which commanded Task Force Helmand.
The Battalion took on a variety of roles, including training and mentoring the Afghan security forces.