January 3, 2012
Lance Sergeant Dan Collins lived for the Welsh Guards. He joined up at 16 and served for more than 13 years. He loved being a soldier – part of his email address was ‘ArmyDan’ – and he was immensely proud of his service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Helmand in 2009, Collins should have died several times but miraculously survived being shot in the back, his leg being grazed by a bullet and being caught in two bomb blasts. He was a joker but also a leader. He witnessed some things no human being should see but never wavered under fire.
On New Year’s Day, Collins telephoned the police from the Preseli Mountains just outside the village of Rosebush in Pembrokeshire in west Wales and told them he was going to hang himself. Helicopters were scrambled and a search was launched but it was several hours before his body was found at an old slate quarry in the mountains.
Dan Collins was 29 years old. A native of Cardigan, he was a son, a brother and a father. He was a Guardsman and a hero, though he would never have used the term to describe himself. While his name is unlikely ever to be carved on a memorial to the fallen his comrades will always remember him as a victim of the war in Afghanistan even though the Taliban never quite managed to kill him.
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