Dagenham hero's welcome

A BRAVE Dagenham soldier was given a hero s welcome after returning from a treacherous tour of duty in Helmand province. Rifleman Dean Ford, 21, survived a roadside bomb blast that killed the driver of their Jackal jeep and left the third soldier in the a

A BRAVE Dagenham soldier was given a hero's welcome after returning from a treacherous tour of duty in Helmand province.

Rifleman Dean Ford, 21, survived a roadside bomb blast that killed the driver of their Jackal jeep and left the third soldier in the armed vehicle on life support.

He also became emaciated as he endured temperatures of 50 degrees celsius while patrolling Sangin, Afghanistan, with 100 pound of equipment on his back.

The ex-Dagenham Park school student was sent home for two-and-half months to receive treatment for facial injuries after the May 7 blast, but returned to the frontline on August 16 to complete his six-month tour.


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His homecoming came after the number of British personnel killed and wounded in Afghanistan topped 1,000 and US troops suffered their biggest monthly loss of life since the conflict began in 2001.

A dozen ecstatic relatives from Norfolk, Havering and Clacton-on-Sea in Essex welcomed him home in Wallers Close, Dagenham, on October 28.

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He said: "I'm very good. The family, everyone was there back home. It's good to be getting back to normal life. It's good to see my family and stuff like that.

"The second part of his tour was difficult but more relaxed towards the end."

Mum Carole, 50, said: "He's seen a lot of things we've never seen." and added: "He's back from Afghanistan. We're happy."

Relatives will join Dean at his barracks in County Down, Northern Ireland, on November 5 to watch him and 300 members of his battalion receive tour of duty medals.

He is also getting ready for a jungle warfare training tour of Kenya next summer.

Carole added: "Helmand is still very dangerous and volatile.

"The army themselves are doing what they can. The Government could do a lot more.

"They need more soldiers and equipment out there.

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