Neil Edwards was born and raised in Bangor, North Wales and joined the Army on the 24 of November 2003, three days after his 24 birthday.
He completed six months of basic training at the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick, North Yorkshire this included the Combat Infantry Course (PARA) Training and Pre-Parachute Selection course (P Company) before moving on to RAF Brize Norton for his jumps course.
After qualifying, Neil was posted to The 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA) in 2004, serving as a rifleman in 9 Platoon, C Company. In 2005, he spent three months in Basrah Province, Iraq as part of Op Telic 6 doing border patrols along the Iraq-Iran border preventing insurgents from smuggling weapons into Iraq.
Following 12 months with C Coy, on returning to the UK he then participated in an overseas exercise with 4 PARA in the Czech Republic earning Czech wings, Neil then returned to his Battalion and went on to do the Machine Guns Cadre. After completion of the course, he spent the next 18 months in the Machine Guns Platoon also deploying to Oman in March 2006 on Exercise Desert Eagle to conduct pre-Afghanistan deployment training. In 2006, Neil was attached to A Coy 3 PARA for Op Herrick IV.
Four months into the tour, on 27 July 2006 during a routine foot patrol in Sangin, Neil was shot in the upper left leg sustaining heavy blood loss, with severe injuries which risked the loss of the leg. His Section Commander Bryan Budd VC helped saved his life that day. One month later, Cpl Budd was Killed In Action whilst once again acting as the courageous leader that he was, and again saving more lives in his selfless act of courage. Neil recalls:
"Bryan Budd VC was the perfect role model for all that was under his command, a man I respected and looked up to. A true hero and the bravest man I ever had the pleasure of meeting he will be sorely missed by everyone that knew him."
Neil's injuries were so severe, it ended his tour of duty, and he was therefore returned to the UK. Over the best part of the next two years, Neil underwent intensive rehabilitation at the Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre in Surrey, which was a difficult time in his life mentally as well as physically.
Finally, in 2008, Neil had rebuilt enough strength in his leg to attempt an expedition with Headley Court with the aim of climbing Mount Kenya, which he did successfully. The story made the papers, and the Daily Mail account can be read at the address below.
Following the expedition Neil returned to 3 PARA, and spent three years in the Motor Transport (MT) Platoon as a Driver. During this time he returned to Kenya for 6 weeks in January 2010 for the pre-deployment training for Afghanistan. Neil was never able to regain full fitness to parachute again, or go back to full active duty. Store work or driving duties was all that was available for him, which didn't fulfil his aspirations. He was no longer able to return to soldiering again.
As a result, Neil decided to sign off in April 2010. Sadly he left 3 PARA in April 2011.
Profile photo taken in the grounds at Headley Court, 2008
The Daily Mail website account of the Headley Court expedition to Mount Kenya
Created with information and imagery kindly supplied by Neil EdwardsRead More