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Last Updated: Monday, 30 October 2006, 21:33 GMT
Iraq fire soldier hopes to return
Pte Karl Hinett
Pte Karl Hinett said he felt "quite guilty" at not returning to Iraq
A soldier who was set on fire by an Iraqi mob has said he wants to return to the region with his regiment.

Pte Karl Hinett, from Tipton, West Midlands, spoke of the pain he suffered when his Warrior tank caught fire.

More than a year on the 19-year-old still needs regular treatment for the injuries he suffered in September 2005.

But he said what he wanted was to rejoin his friends in the Staffordshire Regiment who have recently returned to the war-torn country.

"In the army is where I want to see my future. Hopefully I can get back quite soon amongst my friends," he said.

I managed to get out and when I did get out I blacked out.... The pain came later
Pte Karl Hinett

Pte Hinett said he felt "quite guilty" about not returning with his battalion who returned to Basra just over one week ago.

"I wish I was going back with them," he said.

Images of Pte Hinett jumping from his tank engulfed in flames became a disturbing image of British soldiers' attempt to restore calm in Basra at the time.

He recalled the moment when the vehicle caught fire.

Pte Karl Hinett engulfed in flames
Pte Hinett still receives regular treatment more than a year on

"At first I was overwhelmed with panic. I managed to get a grip on myself, I heard my commander say over the radio keep calm, this was while he was on fire himself," he said.

"I managed to get out and when I did get out I blacked out. Next thing I was aware of I was being stretchered away. The pain came later."

He said he was treated at the scene while a helicopter was scrambled.

"That took roughly 10 or 15 minutes. That 10 or 15 minutes hurt."

In the past 13 months Pte Hinett has had skins grafts and had the word "unscarred" tattooed on his stomach to prove his spirit is not broken.

"What's most affected is my hands," he continued. "Obviously my arms, my legs, my face have been burnt but my arms and legs can function quite well, it is my hands that have really suffered the most damage.

"The physio I'm having is helping sort that out."

Pte Hinett said he had been promised a job back in battalion as soon as he is passed fit.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
See the BBC interview with Pte Karl Hinett



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