WeWill Remember Them

Remembering past, building the future

REMEMBRANCE Sunday is a poignant day formany people, both across the county and nationally.

But for Vinod Buthathoki, it

means evenmore.And it is not just because of his own experience of war, but because of thosewho have been lost in battle. Gurkha soldier Vinod (32) was

seriously injured on patrol in Afghanistan in 2010, but when he has his poppy on inMaidstone this year, his thoughts will be not of himself, but of others. “People sacrificed their lives,” he

says. “They are not getting the chance to explore the world or enjoy their lives. “It’s a huge sacrifice they’ve

made, and their sacrifice is defi- nitely helping people to live freely, makes their regiment proud – and thewhole country proud.” Vinod took part in two tours of

Afghanistan. It was two months into the second of those deploy- ments when he was injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) inHelmand Province.As a result of his injuries, he lost both his legs above the knee and two fingers on his right hand. He remembers the incident, on May 26, 2010, very clearly. He re-

calls: “I was leading my ten man group knee-deep through a canal when I stepped on an IED. There was a massive bang and I was in- stantly in a lot of pain frommy leg area. I knew immediately I had to get help. I called out for assistance. “My friend cleared the area and

took me to the helicopter landing site, and Iwas justwaiting there. “Later on,my sergeant toldme it

took 28 minutes for the helicopter to arrive. Iwas feeling very sleepy, probably due to the dehydration and losing a lot of blood. “We are told we need to be

awake. If I’d been unconscious then they would not have known what was going onwithme. “At the time of the incident, I

knew I was going to lose my leg, but at the time I didn’t realise that I was going to lose both. Luckily, I was wearing glasses which saved my eyes. “The Chinook landed to pickme

up, and I was treated there by a doctor. They took all ofmy gear off to assess the damage and gave me blood, and then the doctor toldme I could sleep.

Gurkha Vinod Buthathoki in training and (below) with his wife Samita and children at their home inMaid- stone

“I knewthen Iwas saved. “I was taken to Camp Bastion.

My company sergeant came to see me and spoke tome, but I can’t re- member any of that because I was on a high dose of morphine by then. I can’t remember anything after falling asleep in the helicopter. Lots of people came to visit me in the hospital too, but I can’t remem- ber that either.” Hewas flown back to theUKtwo

days later,where his then pregnant wifewaswaiting for him. And he admits it was a massive

strain on her – not that

she ever

showed it to him while he was in the early stages of his recovery. “Everybody was

supporting me, but my wife suffered a lot from the begin- ning of my injury. It was a big shock for her,” he adds. “She did every-

ing.His aimis the next Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020. And he admits the Paralympic

sport movement has given him much joy. He said: “Paralympic sport is so inspirational. “I used to love cycling and sitting

They took all of

thing that you can expect from a part- ner. She never showed her pain to me until later on. She was supporting me and I thought everything was OK, but it wasn’t. “Now she’s doing very well.

my gear off to assess the damage and gaveme blood, and then the doctor toldme I could sleep. I knewthen I was saved.

volleyball. Then the games were announced, so I gave more to the sport than I used to. I started cy- cling more and playing more vol- leyball, and in 2014 I took part in InvictusGames. For the last year or so, I’ve been into shooting. I’ve been to Bisley quite a lot and finally I found target shooting with an air rifle in Aylesbury with the GB squad. And nowI’mon the training pro- gramme and I’m nearly in the GB team.” Initially based

in Folkestone, he prefers


county town as there is a thriv- ing serving and former Gurkha

presence and its proximity to Lon- don. The former soldier has been in

She’s got some GCSEs and she’s committed to community work. Nowshewants to get a proper bal- ance with looking after the kids andmay go back to education.” Since his injuries, Vinod has

found a love of sport.He competed in the 2014 Invictus Games in Lon- don in both cycling and sitting vol- leyball, and nowhas a newtarget – literally – as he has taken up shoot-

22 Maidstone Weald December 2017

theUK since 2005 andMaidstone – where he has lived sinceNovember 2013 – certainly feels like home to him, his wife Samita and their two daughters,Ashlyn (7) and Charlyn (3). “There are seven injured Gurkha

soldiers who have settled here in Maidstone. Six of us are very close and we do things quite a lot. We support one another.”

Report by Jon Phipps

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