Marine Peter Dunning, 24, was in a Viking vehicle when it hit a buried homemade bomb in Afghanistan in May 2008. The blast was so fearsome it sent the vehicle’s six-tonne cab flying 20 feet.
Pete and his comrade Marc Goddard were left wounded and burned while the drver, Dale Gostick, was tragically killed. It was the last operational day of their tour and the three marines were returning to base.
Pete, from Wallasey, told the Liverpool Echo: “I knew nothing about it until I woke up hours later in Camp Bastion. I was only awake for a few seconds but that’s when I found out Dale had died. I could see Marc in the bed next to me but I couldn’t see Dale. I asked the question and they said it was bad news. You don’t need to hear it then. You know straight away”.
“I was on top cover and Dale was driving. When you train you learn both roles and each time we swapped over. But I’ll never say it was fortunate or it was unfortunate that Dale was driving that day. It’s just the way it was. I keep in touch with Dale’s family”.
Both of Pete’s legs were amputated - one through the knee, one below the knee - and he was rushed to Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham within 24 hours. His parents and elder brother kept a round the clock vigil at his bedside until he gradually began to improve. He spent five months lying on his back in total - unable even to turn over in bed at night. He said: “I couldn’t do much for myself at all but I was always focusing on something. I wanted to get out of that hospital. The day I learned to use the wheelchair I went straight to the shops in Birmingham.”
A turning point came when a fellow marine stopped by his bed.
“He walked over, wearing his uniform and said: ‘I know what you’re going through’.
“I thought, that’s nice mate, but I’ve lost both legs, how do you know what I’m going through? Then he rolled up his uniform and showed me his prosthetic leg. Until that moment I assumed my life in the Marines would be over. I thought they would give me the handshake and that would be it. It was so good to see him there in his uniform, walking around.