so incredibly proud

I have blogged about my cousin’s son before.  I am astounded, on a daily basis, that he risks his life in the war in afghanistan alongside a lot of other incredible young men & women.

On the day that september the 11th events took place in 2001, we (family) had watched Steven’s grandad take his dying breath having been ravaged by throat cancer. Then, while his mum and gran were sorting out ‘details’, I went back to my auntie’s house with Steven and his younger brother Andrew, turned on the news and watched in horror as the first tower smouldered only to witness, with disbelief, as the second was also attacked.

Steven wanted to know why this was happening; the reasons would only came to light as the day unfolded; we saw the pentagon attacked and a hijacked plane brought down by the terrified passengers in a field in Pennsylvania.

Steven joined the forces the minute he left school and I think it was in large part due to what he had seen that very sad day. He must, however, also have been influenced by his great granddad’s army career and that of his dad’s uncle who is a glittering example in our forces.

My maternal grandad (Steven’s great grandad) was a Dunkirk Veteran. He had gone to war in september 1939 as a regular soldier. He was not a conscript as many later became, he had been a trainee plasterer but gave it up for a career in the army. Off he went, in 1939, fully trained and fully prepared in the fight for king and country. He was in WWII from the very first day but came home very badly injured after the battle of Dunkirk in June 1940 having managed (which would not have been possible, because of his injuries, without the help of his friends) to get on one of the last of the 850 ‘little ships of Dunkirk‘ when Dunkirk was evacuated; a private fishing boat called the Daffodil.

My grandad returned to active duty with shrapnel in his head that gave him blinding headaches and a knee injury that would plague him through the rest of his life. All the boys who helped him retreat to the boats waiting at the beaches of Dunkirk later died in active service, every single one of them! He found it very difficult to talk about the war so we know very little more than these details even though he is mentioned by name and deed in the 1943 book ‘with pennants flying‘. My nephew has all of my grandad’s medals and is also very proud.

Steven is in afghanistan on his 3rd tour of duty now and was involved in the recent battle of compound 62. The footage is frightening but I am so incredibly proud to be related to this brave young man, I can’t tell you.

He won’t like the newspaper articles or the publicity (like his great grandad!), he is doing a job he chose and loves but I sincerely hope he understands how often his is in our thoughts and how very, very proud we all are of what he is doing.

My Grandad would be very pleased to know that Steven is doing so well and carrying a bit of his own bravery with him into his career.  I hope he is looking after him.

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