War hero pays his respects, a decade after being shot in Basra

Simon Brown pays his respects at the ceremony.
Simon Brown pays his respects at the ceremony.

As a fourth generation military man, Morley soldier Simon Brown knows all about making a sacrifice for his country.

Last week, he attended a ceremony at Bruntcliffe Cemetery to commemorate the military service of his ancestor.

The ceremony, organised by the Morley British Legion, included prayers and wreath laying to mark 100 years since the death of Simon’s great-grandfather’s cousin, Field Artillery driver, Willie Lupton.

Simon said: “It was a touching ceremony - strange to think that four generations of my family were volunteering to serve.

“And it was an honour to represent the Morley branch of British Legion and lay the wreath in his honour.”

Simon himself knows what life is like in battle, serving as a corporal with REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer) in Basra, in Iraq.

It was in December 2006 when he was shot in the head by a sniper.

He was tasked to rescue six colleagues whose vehicle had broken down. He was preparing to withdraw from the area when he was hit by sniper fire. A bullet entered his left cheek and emerged from his right cheek, shattering both cheekbones, destroying his left eye and severely damaging his right eye.

Lying in his hospital bed, the then 29-year-old said he thought his life was over. It has been 10 years since he was shot as he saved his comrades. But he remembers what happened like it was yesterday.

Simon said: “As a crew we saved six lives, we couldn’t leave them there.

“It was an armed vehicle and I put my head up and the sniper shot me in my left cheek. I was able to do my own first aid for 25 minutes before being taken to hospital and put in a drug induced coma.”

When he next woke up he was in hospital in Birmingham on Christmas Eve 2006.

“When I woke up I thought that was it, my life had finished as I knew it,” he said.

“I thought I’d be dependent the rest of my life.”

But there’s no stopping the brave soldier who has endured lots of surgery, over the years, as well as securing himself a job with national charity Blind Veterans UK.

He said: “It honestly doesn’t feel like 10 years, taking stock and looking back, I’ve done so much.

“I’ve got back into work. I’m in the marketing department for Blind Veterans UK.

“I’m proud that I’m now independent and travel around the country working, to set up support for other veterans.”

He said that it’s thanks to support from his family, peers and the community.

“I live alone and travel independently around the country. I don’t rely on other people to do that.”

He also juggles his work with having reconstructive surgery on his face.

Mr Brown said: “We’re still rebuilding my face after 20 operations to reconstruct my nose, so I can breathe.

“It’s once or twice a year but it’s complicated stuff with all the swelling.

“I have to take it one step at a time.”

Simon is partially sighted with 20 percent vision in his right eye.

But he manages to work on the road, on his mobile phone, as well as, having a northern base and a London base.

He said: “I’ve managed to get myself to a decent place in life despite my challenges.

“But my future, unfortunately, is surgery and to get through that, as the surgeons have said I can’t rush things.”