Comrades of hero soldier Matthew Stenton 'chomping at bit' to return
THE comrades of an East Yorkshire soldier killed by the Taliban are "chomping at the bit" to return to Afghanistan.
Corporal Matthew Stenton, 23, was awarded a posthumous Military Cross – one of Britain's highest gallantry medals – for driving his Viking armoured vehicle into a hail of bullets to save a critically injured comrade.
Now, his friends from the Royal Dragoon Guards are preparing to return to Helmand province and intend to honour his memory by excelling during their six-month tour.
Speaking from Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, where his unit is carrying out its final exercise prior to deploying next month, Sergeant Richard "Spud" Smith said: "Everyone is chomping at the bit to get out there and get the job done. A lot of the blokes heading out there were with Matthew when he was killed.
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"We will be doing the same job as Matthew, but using a Warthog, which has largely replaced the Viking in Afghanistan."
Corporal Matthew Stenton, of Bridlington was killed in July 2010, just three weeks into his six-month tour of duty.
Sergeant Smith, of Holderness Road, east Hull, has completed three tours of Iraq, but has not previously served in Afghanistan.
He said: "We have spent a lot of time training for this deployment.
"I am sick of people telling me what it is like out there. I just want to get out there and see the place for myself."
Sergeant Smith is married to Michelle and they have a son, Liam, 12, and daughter Aaliyah, 9.
"It will hard being away," he said. "But it is part and parcel of the job."
As previously reported, Corporal Stenton's actions drew enemy fire away from his stricken comrade.
It gave field medics and a gunner precious minutes to tend to his injuries.
Corporal Stenton, knowing the danger he was placing himself in, then leapt from his own armoured vehicle and climbed on to another.
He was firing a machine-gun, while the gunner tended to the casualty, when he was shot dead.
Sergeant Smith, who had tipped Corporal Stenton for rapid promotion, said he and his colleagues could be called on to complete a wide range of tasks.
He said: "We will be working for Task Force Helmand. Our Warthogs are armoured personnel carriers.
"We will be tasked with engaging with the enemy during our six months our there.
"We may also be used for deception or in support of a casualty evacuation."
It is likely to be the unit's final tour of Afghanistan as Britain remains on track to withdraw combat troops by the end of 2014.