A SUTTON soldier has survived an amazing brush with death after standing on a bomb in Afghanistan - and suffering only a broken heel.
Pte Dean Sims (26) was injured when he walked on an IED, or improvised explosive device, while out on patrol in Helmand Province on 9th March.
The former Sutton Centre student joined the Army’s 2 Mercian regiment around two-and-a-half years ago and was away on his first tour to Afghanistan.
Speaking from his dad Brian’s home on Highland Drive, Sutton, Dean said: “It was going alright - we were just on a normal patrol.
“We had been out a couple of hours and were just about to start going back in when we crossed over a ditch.
“There were six people in front of me.
“They all walked over where the IED was and I stood on it.”
Although there was an explosion when Dean stood on the IED, luckily it is thought that it was only a partial detonation - meaning the full strength of the bomb was not released.
Said Dean: “I just remember getting a lot of dust in my face and being on the floor with people shouting at me.
“It didn’t hurt until I realised what had gone off.
“I remember my Sergeant shouting at me, telling me not to move while they cleared all the area round me.”
Dean was put on a stretcher and air-lifted to Camp Bastion, where he was X-rayed and it was discovered he had broken his heel.
He was then flown to hospital in Birmingham for treatment.
“I was having a laugh with all the lads stretchering me back because they were saying I was coming home and they were staying.”
Dean did not immediately tell his family how he got injured because he did not want to worry them.
Dad Brian said: “One night he rang me and we had a chat, and the next morning we got another phonecall saying he had broken his foot.
“I thought it was strange - he was not saying anything and said he had tripped up.
“We didn’t know until it was nearly a week later. Then he said he had stood on a landmine.”
The war in Afghanistan has been characterised by the insurgents’ use of roadside bombs and IEDs.
More than 400 British servicemen and women have been killed since the conflict started in 2001.
Dean has seen first hand the damage that IEDs can do, with two of his friends having lost both of their legs to a roadside bomb.
“I feel lucky,” he said.
“One of my friends who has lost his legs was laughing at me, saying I had only sprained an ankle!”
Dean had another near miss earlier on the tour when a soldier who he was patrolling with was shot.
“He was at the top of ladder and I was at the bottom,” said Dean.
Brian is very proud of his son and said that what has happened to him still has not really sunk in.
“When you see the people in the hospital and you see them without limbs, you think it could have been that or worse,” he said.
“It’s sort of surreal because I still don’t realise what could’ve happened.
“It doesn’t sink in.”
Dean’s company is due to come home later this month.
He cannot put any weight on his foot for three months, will need physiotherapy and then will have his fitness tested by the Army - but hopes to rejoin his comrades as soon as possible.
Brian added: “He was very, very lucky.
“As his grandad said, ‘thank God the bloke who built the bomb didn’t know what he was doing!’”