When a Taliban hand grenade landed at the feet of Rifleman James McKie he made a split second decision that saved his life and those of two comrades - by picking it up and throwing it back.
As the soldiers came under fire from three different directions, the device exploded in mid air just yards away from where they were standing, sending shrapnel flying.
Rifleman McKie, of Reconnaissance Platoon, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, suffered injuries to his face and right arm.
Platoon Commander Captain Graeme Kerr was flown to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham after fragmentation hit his leg.
Speaking about the incident in Sangin on March 3, Rfn McKie said: 'My first thought was, "I hope this doesn't hurt too much".
'That, and I've really only got one chance to do this. If it fails, either way, doing nothing, I'm going to get the same amount of hurt. So I picked it up and threw it off the roof.
'We were in a high position on a compound roof. There was no way you could throw yourself off and not get injured, so I made a decision to pick up the grenade and throw it off the roof. And I threw it quite deliberately. I tried to throw it properly, to clear the roof.
'I didn't want to do it half arsed and have them throw it back at us or anything like that. I remember thinking that, if I didn't pull this off, it was going to hurt. But at that stage I was pretty much committed.
'My platoon has taken a lot of casualties. I really didn't want to see anyone else get hurt. So I committed to that course of action.
'It was dropping down into the alleyway before it detonated. As I continued to watch it, as you are trained to, I received fragmentation in my face and right arm.
'Because of the way Captain Kerr was positioned, he got a larger piece of fragmentation in his left leg, but otherwise no one else was seriously hurt.'
Rfn McKie, from New Zealand, said: 'The fire was disciplined and accurate. I managed to spot one of the firing points and I engaged with my GPMG (general purpose machine gun) to suppress the enemy.
'After a few minutes they stopped firing and we continued observing to the east.
'It must have been no more than five minutes and then I heard what sounded like a mini flare come from our right where I knew there were none of our guys, so I thought this was really unusual.
'It was actually the fly-off lever of a grenade that had been thrown from the alleyway below.'
Rfn McKie threw a smoke grenade to cover their withdrawal, firing and manoeuvring until they reached the safety of another compound.
While Captain Kerr was immediately evacuated by helicopter Rfn McKie stayed behind.
He was evacuated to Camp Bastion the next day despite his protests to stay.
He said: 'In retrospect, people keep telling me how brave I am, which I'm slightly embarrassed about.
'I'd like to think that anyone in that situation would have done the same or something similar because you can't just sit there and let yourself or other people get hurt.
'I don't feel particularly brave. I thought: I have to do this to survive. Not just for myself but for the guys around me as well. I'm not expecting anything from them, I don't want any thanks from them, I just don't want them to get hurt.'
Rfn McKie joined the British Army because he wanted to fight in Afghanistan. He previously served in the New Zealand Army.
He said: 'I love soldiering. I love being here in Afghanistan. Obviously bad things happen and I can't go back and change it, but what I can do is try and stop things happening around me.
'As far as the military experience goes, this is the ultimate for a career soldier. I understand there are a lot of people out here who don't like it, who can't wait to get home. That's their opinion and I have to respect that, but this is what I want to do.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1256541/Soldier-threw-hand-grenade-James-McKie-saved-lives-Helmand-province.html#ixzz0hhVdFbj8
Click to view image: 'James McKie'
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