Greg is a friend of mine and an ex-Air Cadet from the Squadron where I help out as staff. He was 19 and had been in Afghanistan for just over a month. Greg is a hero, just like every single man and woman who serves or has served in the Armed Forces. Every day these brave men and women put their lives on the line to protect our freedom and to protect the freedom of those who are unable to protect themselves from those who would seek to do them harm. Many of them are injured or killed doing this, including my friend and his comrades.A soldier seriously wounded in a roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan has told how he cheated death by a few inches.Coldstream Guard Greg Dunnings, 19, was part of a group of soldiers on patrol in Babaji, Helmand Province, when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off, injuring one of his colleagues.
Guardsman Dunnings, from Ribbleton, Preston, was ordered to help lift the stretcher carrying the injured soldier.
He was on the back left hand side of the stretcher when his sergeant, Acting Sgt John Amer, told him to swap sides.
Seconds later, Sgt Amer stood directly on a second IED, causing fatal injuries.
The soldier on the stretcher, who had lost his right foot in the first explosion, lost both his legs.
But, miraculously, despite standing just one foot away, Guardsman Dunnings was blown clear by the blast, as shrapnel ripped through his legs.
He recalled: "Instead of losing any limbs I was just blown backwards. (The medics) said they expected it to rip through me as well.
"I know how lucky I have been."
Guardsman Dunnings, who celebrated his 19th birthday just four days before the November 30 incident, was left with severe injuries to his legs, left hip and wrist. He was airlifted out by helicopter as the Taliban continued to fire at them and taken to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham on December 1. He underwent skin graft surgery on Tuesday as 30-year-old Sgt Amer's body was flown home to the UK.
During the Christmas season, while you are enjoying the holidays, eating your Christmas dinner, exchanging presents and generally having a good time, spare a thought for the men and women who are serving overseas, away from their families and friends. Think about the men who are risking their lives so that you have the freedom to enjoy Christmas, and think about the families of men like Sgt John Amer who will be spending this Christmas with an empty chair at the dinner table.
100 British service personnel have been killed in Afghanistan in 2009 and the total since the war started stands at 237. They aren't casualties - casualties are statistics. They are heroes, all of them. Whenever people rant and protest and call for the troops to be withdrawn, they should stop and think of these 237 people. The list of dead is also a list of 237 reasons why we need to stay and fight. To pull out would hand victory to the enemy, and that would be an insult to the memories of these brave men and women.
Remember them this Christmas, and be thankful that men like Greg are there to keep us safe. Without men like him and his comrades, the world would be a much more dangerous place.