It was just a routine patrol, through an Afghan village recently cleared of Taleban fighters.
L/Cpl Oliver Ruecker was a sniper
Sitting in the back of a Viking armoured vehicle, sniper Oliver "Teddy" Ruecker was "chilling out" and did not feel in particular danger.
At the age of just 20, he was already a veteran of the Iraq conflict and had been out in the field for weeks under daily fire in fierce combat.
For once it was going to be an easy ride. But the next 10 minutes would change the Lance Corporal's life and write a new page in the history books of the 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment.
His conduct that day earned him the Military Cross.
The ambush started as the seven-vehicle convoy passed a compound.
Ruecker said: "It kicked off big time. When the first rocket-propelled grenade hit, it was hell.
"One hit underneath and one on top. There was a massive boom. Flames started coming in the top hatch where there were explosives.
"The radio went crazy. We were immobilised and had to get out.
"There were bullets and RPGs flying everywhere and an endless stream of tracer. I couldn't stand still. I didn't want to die."
The 1st Battalion "Viking" soldier ran to an alleyway to find cover.
But as he turned the corner, he was confronted by a Taleban fighter brandishing an AK-47.
"Luckily for me he was shooting in the air celebrating. I drew my pistol and killed him," Ruecker recalled.
When he turned around, the Viking was a fire-ball, with heavy machine gun rounds and rockets piling into it.
Afghanistan was one of the regiment's toughest tours
There was no sign of his friend and fellow sniper, Dean Bailey, who had been standing in the rear hatch and despite being hit and set alight had removed his protective gear to give covering fire.
"I knew if I got into another vehicle and drove off I wouldn't be able to live with myself. I didn't know if he was in there so I had to make sure.
"I was scared. I didn't want to go back but I knew I had to. I don't know how I got close. There were flames, and rounds going off. It was a scene of pure destruction."
Dean Bailey was unconscious on the floor of the vehicle beside 15lbs of explosives.
Under heavy fire from AK-47s, RPGs and machine guns, Ruecker dragged his friend to another Viking.
"I don't see myself as a hero. I was just saving my mate - doing him a favour - nothing special in my eyes.
"It is something which soldiers have between them - friendship and love that we have between us that makes men do that sort of thing for his mate.
"Every guy who was there had to stand up and be a man. Everyone shared death and destruction on a daily basis."
Under surgery Dean "died" several times. His ear was ripped off and he suffered severe head and arm injuries.
He was on a life support machine in a coma.
Back home in England, where he has had cochlear implants to restore partial hearing, he is slowly recovering.
L/Cpl Ruecker's mother, Nicola, did not know about her son's heroism until she read about it in a newspaper some weeks later.
"He didn't actually tell me anything. He just said he had a hairy experience. When I read about it I was completely numb.
"I couldn't decide whether to hug him because I was relieved he was OK or slap him because he had done something so outrageously dangerous."
His American father, Scott, recently retired from the US military.
Shortly before the tour of duty in Afghanistan, he took his son to a firing range to practice drills for drawing his pistol - training which may have contributed to his fast reactions when confronted by the Taleban fighter.
Ruecker served in Iraq before his posting to Afghanistan
Mrs Ruecker said she is relieved to have her son home from war, but feels for the families of the nine Royal Anglians lost during their tour of duty.
"We are just very lucky I just have my son and he is walking and talking and as cheeky as he ever was.
"If Oliver had died doing what he did I couldn't even care if there was a medal involved or not.
"The truth is there is, and if nothing else it is in recognition of everything the Royal Anglians went through, and the sacrifice they made," said Mrs Ruecker.
Teddy Ruecker grew up in Norfolk where he was an Army Cadet.
At 16 he spent a year at Army Foundation College in Harrogate before joining the Royal Anglians.
He celebrated his 21st birthday in Cyprus on the way home from his six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.
The exclusive inside story on the Ruecker family will be shown at a future date on BBC1.