By Alexander Lawrie
A HEROIC Scots postman who was severely injured fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan has won an award for outstanding bravery.
Iain Macdonald, 38, was on tour with his TA unit in the Helmand province last year when he was hit by flying shrapnel during a rocket-propelled grenade attack.
The injured Sergeant brushed off his injury by refusing to fly home and was back in the front line helping his mates within 10 days of the attack – complete with the shrapnel still embedded in his chest.
“To have won is fantastic”
And the delivery man has now won the national accolade for bravery at a ceremony in London yesterday – collecting his £1000 prize money from Christine Bleakley and Royal Mail Managing Director Mark Higson.
Thilled Iain said: “I was happy just to have been nominated, but to have won is fantastic.”
Iain, from Burntisland, Fife, was posted out to the troubled war zone with fellow members of the 15th Company – 4th Paratroopers in May last year.
And, while on duty on the Helman front line as a Guard Commander, ‘Sgt Mac’ and five regular soldiers were attacked with rocket-propelled grenades.
The married dad-of-two was struck in the chest by a large piece of flying shrapnel and was rushed back to the unit’s base for treatment.
Leave the shrapnel inside
He was transferred by helicopter to a nearby medical centre where army surgeons decided to leave the shrapnel embedded in the soldier’s chest because it was too close to Iain’s major organs.
After 10-days recuperating from the attack Iain demanded to be flown back to the front line to complete his tour of duty.
The proud, but modest, soldier has admitted he is delighted to have won the bravery gong, but says he was only doing his job.
He said: “I really enjoy the work I do with the TA and just did what any of my colleagues would have done under the same circumstances.
“When I first joined the Territorial Army in 1996 I didn’t really expect to be sent to a war zone. But with all the first class training I’ve received it didn’t faze me when I got the call.
“I remember the incident when I was injured very clearly. I was on guard duty and was speaking to a few other soldiers when we came under fire.
“I knew instantly I had been struck, but I was more worried about my colleagues who were more seriously injured than me.
“At the time I didn’t realise it was shrapnel, I thought I’d actually been shot.
“It was incredibly painful, but the adrenalin pulled me through.
The brave squaddie added: “I had no hesitation in heading back out there.
Afterall, all my mates were still there and they needed all the help they could get.”
Service and commitment
Iain’s Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Frazer Smith, paid tribute to brave Iain’s service and commitment.
He said: “Daily ambushes and intense firefights at close quarters with Taleban insurgents were the daily rhythm of life for Sergeant MacDonald and his fellow paratroopers, and it pushed every man to his limit.
“Iain is approachable, pragmatic, reliable and determined. Sgt Mac gets on with the job.
“I think he displayed that whilst fighting in Afghanistan. Just over a week after being injured, he was back with his comrades.”
Ian McKay, the Royal Mail’s Director of Scottish Affairs, said: “Iain is a worthy winner of this award.
“His selflessness and bravery demonstrate exactly why our postmen and women are such highly valuable members of their communities.”
Christine Bleakley said: “In the UK our postmen and women are a group of very remarkable people who contribute so much, with acts of kindness, a huge amount of fundraising, and a commitment to volunteering which makes such a difference to the local communities where they live and work.”
And Marilyn Livingstone, Labour MSP for Kirkcaldy, added: “His family, friends and the local community will be proud of the commitment he has shown in the face of adversity.
“This is a well deserved award.”
As winner of the Scottish Bravery category Iain also walked off with a £500 cheque and a trophy.