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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Hero, aged 19

THREE years ago Joshua McEwan left Barrow a boy. On Saturday, he returned a man.

Trooper McEwan received a hero’s welcome from family and friends at the weekend when he arrived home after a seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The 19-year-old, from the Queen’s Royal Hussars, served as an infantry soldier on the frontline in Lashkah Gah in the war-torn country’s south.

Tpr McEwan became used to living with the constant threat of death, but it was not until he returned home that he realised how difficult his deployment had been for his loved ones.

“I didn’t know how hard would have been for them,” he said after being reunited with his mothers, Allison and Lisa McEwan, in Barrow on Saturday.

“You can’t think about (the dangers) because you’d start to worry then. I coped well. You’ve got your friends there and you’re all going through the same thing.

“But it was strange to come home. It was a shock. And a great relief.”

Lisa McEwan said she and Allison had suffered through “a lot of sleepless” nights worrying about their son’s wellbeing.

“It’s just such a relief that he’s done it and it’s over and done with,” she said.

“It was horrendous because you’re always on alert and you try not to watch the news.

“It’s so good to have him back. He’s definitely matured, I can see that.”

Tpr McEwan joined the army at just 16, after finishing his studies at Parkview School in Barrow, knowing full-well he would be sent to fight.

“I actually joined the army to go to Afghanistan and get some life experience,” he said.

“I wanted to get out of Barrow and see what the world was like. Just to experience different cultures and see how people react to situations.”

His regiment saw no shortage of action and while Tpr McEwan was never injured, many of his comrades were not so fortunate.

Earlier this month, Corporal Jack Stanley, 26, from Tpr McEwan’s regiment became the 408th British soldier killed in the decade-long conflict.

But Tpr McEwan said he had coped as well as could be expected with the challenges and returned a better person. Some parts were really exciting, some parts were really sad and some parts were really boring,” he said.

“Day-in, day-out we’d do patrols just to keep an eye on the local people and keep it all secure.

“A lot of the locals would wave at you and they’re glad you’re there because you’re helping the country, but a lot of others really don’t want you there.

“There’s two sides to it; people who want you there and people who don’t.”

Tpr McEwan will be in Barrow for the next fortnight before returning to his base in Germany. His regiment is not due to be re-deployed to Afghanistan for another three years.

Have your say

I was lucky enough to know Joshua and his comrades well when they were out here in Lashkar Gah. They are all a credit to the British Army and to thier Country. Joshua's Mothers are very right to be proud of him. We all miss the QRH out here and wish them well.

Posted by Paul R Penman on 6 May 2012 at 06:05

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