“A young soldier told today how he continued to fire his gun in a deadly shootout with the Taliban – despite being shot in the head.
Private Craig Paterson was three months into a tour in the troubled Helmand Province of Afghanistan last July when his unit was pinned down on a rooftop by an enemy sniper.
Pte Paterson, 22, was desperate to stay in the fight alongside his comrades and kept firing back, holding the enemy away from the building.
The soldier, from Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, said: ‘We were on an operation and we had been dropped in the middle of nowhere. I’m a sharp shooter so I was told to go onto the roof of this building.
‘Four of us had been on the roof when fire started coming in and we were quickly pinned down. I can remember the bullets and mortars flying around my head.
‘I knew there was a sniper out there and I was looking for him. It happened very quickly – I put my head up and he got me.
‘I can’t remember much after I was shot. But I must have been determined to get the sniper as the guys said I continued firing at him, even though I was in and out of consciousness.’
Pte Paterson eventually collapsed and lay helpless on the roof until a paramedic came to his rescue.
The medic – nicknamed Mother by fellow soldiers of 4 Scots, the Royal Regiment of Scotland – shielded the stricken soldier with her body as they were sprayed with heavy gunfire and ricocheting bullets.
Royal Navy reservist Michelle Ping, 37, from Leeds, was later mentioned in dispatches in recognition of her gallantry.
He said: ‘As soon as she saw my eyes she thought I was dead. But she shouted at me “I’m not having that” and she shook me back to life and looked after me.
‘I’m so grateful for what she did. She saved my life. We’re best of friends and she is coming up to Aberdeen next Friday to see me to see how I’m getting on.’
Pte Paterson suffered a brain injury as the bullet drove through a neat puncture in the front of his helmet and punched a large exit hole at the back.
He was then airlifted to Kandahar, where an American surgeon carried out a delicate operation on his head, removing a piece from the top of his skull and inserting a titanium plate held in place by 32 tiny screws.”
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