A SOLDIER who cheated death when he was shot in Afghanistan is to return to the frontline.
Aaron Deans, a lance corporal in the Light Dragoons, was hit while serving in the war-torn country three years ago.
The bullet went through his back and out through his side, but miraculously did not hit any vital organs.
It passed within millimetres of his spine and lungs, but left a clean wound.
Two more bullets had embedded in the headrest of the armoured Jackal which Aaron, now 21, was driving, and the rest of the vehicle was riddled by gunfire.
But incredibly his three passengers all escaped injury because Aaron, of Washington Village, ignored the pain to keep driving.
Now, three years after the fire-fight that almost claimed his life, Aaron has battled back to health and is set to return to the frontline.
“I don’t want this to sound wrong, or disrespectful, but I just can’t wait to get back out there,” he said.
“It is not for Helmand, which really is hell, and it is not for the fighting.
“I have got to be respectful saying this, but it is the camaraderie with the lads in the regiment that I want to go back for.
“That is what I love about Army life, the togetherness and the friendship.
“And that is why I am ready to go back, despite everything that has happened.”
Having avoided death by such a small margin, he was flown back to England for treatment and was then hit by a very different body-blow.
Aaron continued: “An officer came up to me into the hospital one day and said, ‘I’m sorry’.
“I thought he meant he was sorry I had been injured.
“But it wasn’t that at all.
“He said, ‘Don’t you know?’
“I said, ‘Don’t I know what?’ And he told that my father had died.
“My dad, Brian, had died from swine flu. He was only 60.”
But Aaron said his experience made him stronger.
“I was in hospital for a week, had three months physio, and at the end of six months there were no after-effects.
“Dad’s death on the week I got back to England hit me and the family very hard, and in so many ways there was a lot to get over.
“But I think back, and, compared to what some of the lads have gone through, my experience pales into insignificance.
“Six of the lads, lads I knew, never came back at all. They were killed.
“I came close to dying, but I am still ready to go back.”
The Light Dragoons are raising £1million for families of dead and injured soldiers.
Full details at www.lightdragoons.org.uk