Page last updated at 10:40 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 11:40 UK

Burned soldier wants Afghan return

British soldiers in Afghanistan
Michael Stoker said he felt lucky to be alive

A former Belfast mayor's soldier son who was badly injured in an Afghanistan ambush has said he wants to return there once his burns heal.

Michael Stoker, 23, suffered 30% burns when his patrol was ambushed in May.

The 23-year-old Queen's Royal Hussars soldier, whose father is Ulster Unionist councillor Bob Stoker, has left hospital and is undergoing rehabilitation.

He admitted he felt lucky to be alive but his ordeal had not deterred him from fighting in the Army.

"I will be able to go back, I just need to be worried about some of the burns," he said.

"I'll need to put a lot of sun cream on, but I'm looking to make a full recovery and hopefully get back to my unit next year. In a couple of years time, I'll hopefully be back out there."

Mr Stoker said he could not remember much about the explosion.

I can at least use my experience from what happened to possibly save someone else from being injured
Michael Stoker

"Normally we'd go out and engineers look for mines and destroy them - unfortunately this one was buried deep," he said.

"I woke up when the vehicle overturned. I could see my legs getting burned by oil but I can't remember anything else until I woke up in Selly Oak Military Hospital in Birmingham.

"I'm lucky that most of my burns are easily covered up on my legs and torso. It is quite a lot of burns but there are a lot of people worse off than me."

A colleague travelling in the same vehicle was killed in the blast.

Mr Stoker said his friend had been blown up a number of times before but knew the risks he was taking.

"It probably would have been the way he wanted to go, doing a job that he enjoyed," he said.

Mr Stoker said the Army was "like one big massive family who all look out for each other regardless of danger".

"I've been through a rough time but if I'm not out there it will be someone else - I can at least use my experience from what happened to possibly save someone else from being injured," he said.

"I could help younger guys understand what to look for and what to do if someone's got hurt, so maybe then someone else will have a better chance of surviving."

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