A DAVENTRY soldier returned home from a tour of Afghanistan on the same weekend his mother held a Help for Heroes fundraiser.
Aiden O’Brian is a platoon sergeant with the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, part of the Queen’s Company, and has served in the Army since he was 19.
Now, aged 30, Sgt O’Brian returns from his third tour of Afghanistan having served in Kosovo, Bosnia and Iraq in his career.
He said: “I have always been focused on joining the army, I actually wanted to go in when I was 16 but couldn’t at that time – I just wanted to be in on the action.
“Even now, after we have been training and before we fly out, I get excited to go, as do some of the other lads.”
Sgt O’Brian’s admitted that one of the hardest parts of the job is the conditions in which the soldiers live in order to attain their goal of keeping the enemy off the battlefield.
He said: “It’s hard to know who the enemy are and where they are hiding because they could just look like regular people but they could be carrying a weapon under their clothes.
“We walk down the street in army uniform and are easily recognised and that can be difficult.”
On top of these difficulties Sgt O’Brian said day to day living is very hard with blistering heat, army rations and no washing facilities challenging the soldiers physically.
The soldiers are required to carry bags weighing up to 150lbs and often have to wear the same clothing for over a week.
Sgt O’Brian added: “Our living conditions are really poor. In order to protect ourselves from being fragged (being injured by sharp flying fragments) we dig big holes and live in those.
“We squat in them and sleep in them but they are covered in fleas and things so they bite us - it’s not pleasant.”
“When I am back I sometimes find it frustrating because I hear people in the queue at Tesco and they moan because they have had to wait for 10 minutes which is just nothing. I know people can’t relate to the experience of being out there so I do understand but I sometimes find it hard to hear things like that.”
Due to the nature of a his job Sgt O’Brian has formed close relationships with the soldiers in his platoon and believes that living and working with friends is one of the most positive aspects of the job.
He says that having such good friends in the forces is what supports many soldiers when they first join and find it difficult coming back to the UK after a tour.
He said: “I am more experienced now with coping with coming back and forth from Afghanistan but some of the younger lads obviously find it difficult and do go out drinking when they come back.
“I don’t do that and I think it’s because I am more used to it and I’ve got all my friends in the forces – we can talk to each other because obviously we are close.”
Sgt O’Brian is now home until January when he will return to camp and prepare for the Queen’s birthday parade next year.
He intends to spend the next few months relaxing and seeing friends and family at home in Daventry.
Sgt O’Brian’s mother, Shirley Tebbutt, is happy to have him home for a while and has been fundraising for the Help for Heroes charity in his absence.
Mrs Tebbutt raised £1,030 holding a raffle and auction at her salon Medusa Touch in Daventry.
She said: “I think when you’re fundraising if it is for something close to you, you want to do it more and I am really pleased with the amount we raised.”