Bomb-blast survivor arrives home in time for the birth of his baby girl
A SWANSEA soldier who was lucky to survive a bomb blast in Afghanistan has arrived home in time for the birth of his baby girl.
Guardsman Karl Henneberry, of 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, was travelling in a Mastiff armoured vehicle between two forward operating bases in Nahr-e Saraj in Helmand Province when it hit an improvised explosive device.
The 23-year-old, from Port Tennant, said he had been travelling in the commander's seat at the front of the vehicle when it struck the roadside bomb.
He said he was lucky not to have been more seriously hurt.
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Karl said: "We were building a new FOB (forward operating base) to stop the Taliban from streaming through. We went to get water supplies in the Mastiff — there was a two vehicle crew. As we were driving through they had obviously seen us and planted a bomb.
"We drove over 25 kilogrammes of explosives as we were going between the two FOBs (forward operating bases) — there was a massive explosion.
"I hit the dashboard, the windscreen was covered in dirt and black smoke.
"I couldn't see anything, it was that dirty."
He added: "I felt the blood dripping off my face and onto my combats.
"I couldn't feel any pain. I thought I had broken my nose but there was a big gash across the front of it and there was a hole above my eyebrow. I think I head-butted a screw."
He said he was in shock following the explosion but he could have suffered far worse injuries.
"I am lucky I got away with a scar on my nose and that I did not have a broken limb," he added.
"The vehicle came to a stop, the wheel came off and there was engine fluid everywhere.
"We had to stop there until we had back up."
The incident happened during the middle of the day during August last year. But he said they had to wait until the night before they had extra support.
Karl said: "I felt like we were being watched as well — we could have been ambushed.
"We did have another working vehicle with us and we were reassured that extra weapons were being brought to us.
"No one else was injured."
Karl said he was treated on the scene by an Army medic, which meant he did not need further treatment at the hospital in Camp Bastion.
"At the time it was a scary experience, but when I look back I find it amusing," he added.
It is not the first time the soldier has been out to Afghanistan, it was back in 2009 when the Welsh Guards were involved in Operation Panther's Claw.
The British-led operation was designed to drive Taliban fighters out of key corner of Afghanistan — the offensive was the biggest since the invasion of Iraq.
Karl said because of increased surveillance by British troops he believed the security situation had improved.
"The Taliban do not go into areas where there is surveillance.
"We are finding a lot more weapons that they have been hiding along with RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), which cost thousands of pounds.
"In 2009 I would get contacted by the Taliban every day, but this time I was contacted once or twice," he said.
The guardsman, who was out in Afghanistan between spring and October last year, said their parade through Swansea was "outstanding."
He said his return home couldn't have been timed any better as he and his partner Rebecca Wesson, 21, had their first baby.
"A week or two after I came home the baby was born," he added. "We lost two babies before so it was special for Ava Clare to be born — it's amazing."