A BURNLEY soldier has returned home to a hero’s welcome after a four-month mission in war-torn Afghanistan.
Scott Waddington (25) was deployed to Lashkar Ghar in the dangerous Helmand Province where he operated the helicopter base bringing in troops, supplies, casualties and even British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The 9th Regiment Army Air Corps soldier, who missed his first Christmas with young son Oliver fighting for his country, said he was glad to be back in Burnley where friends and family threw him a surprise party.
“I really enjoyed doing the job out there. You do your training back in the UK but it is good when you put it into practice.
“It’s great to be back. I have missed Kirsty and Oliver. He has changed so much. I missed his first words.”
Clarets fan Scott, who joined the army in 2008, was deployed to Afghanistan last October - the first time he had served in a war zone.
He worked as part of a four-man Helicopter Landing Site team controlling the smooth running of all chopper flights coming through the base – toiling 12 hours a day for four months.
“We run anything to do with aviation coming in on helicopters - passengers, kit, casualties, and mail.
“I was there when David Cameron came. I had to deal with him and his entourage getting off the plane. He seemed like a decent guy.
“I also met Prince Andrew out there.”
When he was not dealing with Chinooks, Merlins, Lynx and the famous US “Huey” helicopters used in Vietnam, Scott was posted on guard duty – maintaining the ring of steel around the base.
On-going reconstruction work is being spearheaded by British troops and US marines in the area – but with it comes casualties, and Scott is often call upon to help out.
“When the casualties come in we have to take the stretchers off. Lashkar Gah is quite a big medical facility and they deal with local nationals when they get caught up in things like IED attacks” – Improvised Explosive Devices planted by insurgents to cause carnage.
“I am part of the medical team that treats these casualties. Sometimes we get three or four in at once. It is all hands to the pump.
“I enjoy working with the casualties because you know you are actually helping people.”
His partner, Kirsty Cambell (25) sent him videos of little Oliver on Facebook and his mum Carol Little sent copies of the Burnley Express to Afghanistan every week so Scott could keep up with all the news back home.
When his tour of duty came to an end it took Scott four flights and almost a week to get back to his family in Burnley.
Back home his friends and family had organised a surprise party for him at his local pub and even put on a belated Christmas dinner for him.
“Since I have been back it’s the colours and stuff that I have noticed because out there it is desert and everything is beige. It was funny seeing green grass and trees.”
He now has four weeks off with Kirsty and Oliver before he is back training with his unit.