The final challenge in the desert was the 10 mile march, one of the iconic tests of endurance for the Paratroopers. The desert conditions would make this difficult for all those involved. We asked expedition leader Cpt. Matt Clamp why everyone had come so far to undertake this challenge and why is was so important to him.
“Pte Conrad Lewis was part of the Fire Support Unit attached to the A company and 3 Para on the last tour of Afghanistan. He was based at Checkpoint Quadrat in Helmand province. On 9 February 2011, Privates Lewis deployed as part of a foot patrol to reassure the local population and gather census information in a small village north of the Nahr-e Bughra canal. The patrol came under fire and, during the ensuing fire fight and Private Lewis received serious gunshot wounds. Despite receiving immediate medical attention at the scene, and extraction by helicopter, he sadly died of his wounds.
Conrad’s father Tony Lewis was working in Paris for Nissan at the time when he received the phone call that his son had died and he decided he wanted to do something to help the Afghanistan Trust and this is how Nissan became involved. This whole Morocco expedititon has come about because of the sad events that day.”
All of those involved on the 10 mile march were aware of how important it was to do there best to complete this final challenge and in doing so helped raise much needed funds for the Afghanistan Trust. It would be wonderful if everyone could share this video with friends and family and in doing so help us achieve our £40,000 target.
When you first arrive in Afghanistan it’s a strange feeling. You are excited because this is what it has all been leading up to, this is it, but at the same time you won’t ever forget the fact that you are scared. Anyone who says they are not scared is lying. You have a massive amount of cautiousness around you because just to walk around is intimidating. You get used to it after a while but you never forget what might be lying under the ground. I found 6 IED’s when I was out there and that’s what wakes you up.
24 hours in Afghanistan for me would mean either spending time in a checkpoint or going on patrol. Sometimes you would remain at a checkpoint for up to a month and this would involve remaining inside the compound, not stepping outside the gates. You would be posted on guard. There’s a stag list and you would be required to be on guard for three hours stints, sometimes more, only grabbing a couple hours of sleep in between.
On stag you are looking out for enemy movements and this might involve watching the civilians moving about as the Taliban would regularly conceal themselves in the general population. You’re keeping your eye out for suspicious movements so that when a patrol does come through you can fill them in on everything that is going on. This gives them reassurance as they are walking around but it’s also to prevent enemy movements because they put checkpoints in key positions.
On a patrol day you would wake up in the early morning, you’d get briefed about where you are going and what you will be doing. Every aspect of the patrol would be covered. Then you set off out the gates. The patrol is usually focused on talking to the locals, finding out what is going on, finding out what they need and if they know anything about Taliban movements. Every now and again you would get shot at. Once that is dealt with and hopefully no-one has been injured you would return to base and get debriefed and then get your scoff on.
I spent 6 months in Afghanistan, my time got cut short by my injury but a lot of the lads spend 7 months on tour. What people don’t often understand is that living for that period of time in uncomfortable conditions day in and day out can be challenging. You kind of get used to it, but it doesn’t stop. It’s constant, you don’t get a day off. It’s 7 days a week, 24/7. You can’t just say I don’t want to go out today. That is your way of life for 6 months, it’s non-stop – walking out of the compound, not knowing what’s around you, when you are going to get shot. You don’t know when it’s gong to happen.