“WE hope that luck stays with him every day” – mum Christine Davey spoke of her relief after being told son Daniel Leonard had survived two Taliban attacks within weeks of each other.
Dubbed the “bullet magnet”, squaddie Daniel, 21, who is serving with the 3rd Battalion, The Rifles, saw a round hit the butt of his rifle during a firefight.
Two weeks later, a bullet was fired into his body armour as he provided cover in Nad-e Ali North, in Afghanistan.
Christine, 45, of Philadelphia, spoke to the Echo after her eldest son made headlines across the world.
She said: “When he told me I panicked, as any parent would. I was so worried about him and was in total shock.
“The reality of where he is and what him and all those other brave soldiers are doing sunk in. Until then, it hadn’t been real.
“He reassured me he was okay and that it wouldn’t be happening again, but you just don’t know when there’s still a lot of conflict out there.”
The former Houghton Kepier School pupil was sent to Afghanistan for a six-month tour in April – his first since joining the Army in November 2009.
“I was totally scared when I found out he was being sent to Afghanistan because you know what’s going on over there,” Christine said. “But he was ready for it.
“We are proud of him, but we can’t help but worry at the same time. We hope every day that luck stays with him and everybody else out there, who are all so brave.
“We heard last week that another soldier had been killed and you think ‘that could have been him’ and then you feel so much for that family.”
Dad Kevin Leonard, of Houghton, said: “We’re so proud of Daniel and what he is doing, as we are of every single other soldier over there.
“He’s been so lucky because he’s been shot twice and hasn’t been injured. There’s more than 200 other British soldiers who haven’t been so lucky and our hearts go out to their relatives.”
Daniel passed out in April 2010, accomplishing his childhood dream of serving in the Armed Forces and following in the military footsteps of his dad, who served in the Navy.
His younger brother, Jack Leonard, 16, also plans on signing up with the Royal Marines when he is 17.
Daniel’s girlfriend of almost three years, Emma Crowther, said: “I miss him madly when he’s away and do worry about him but we knew the risk was always there.”
Daniel will see his family for two weeks when he returns home in July, before finishing his tour in October.