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Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009
British soldier has face rebuilt

By Tracy Ollerenshaw
Newsbeat reporter

"Snatch" Land Rover

A British soldier who went to repair an army vehicle which was under fire in Iraq in 2006 has spent the last two years rebuilding his life after being shot in the head.

Simon Brown survived but lost one eye completely and 90% of the vision in the other.

The 30-year-old, who's from Morley in West Yorkshire, joined the army as a mechanic when he was 18 years old.

At the end of the day, if you look at how I did get injured I possibly saved six people's lives that day
Simon Brown says he doesn't regret his time in the Armed Forces
"There isn't a buzz like it, being in conflict in battle," he said.

"You know your adrenaline is pumping and you're with people you trust, you know, your mates.

"And you've got one thing on your mind and that's staying alive."

Back in December 2006, Simon Brown had to rescue a broken down armoured vehicle and six fellow soldiers during a firefight in Basra.

But after reaching them to tow them to safety, Simon hit trouble.

He put his head out of his own armoured vehicle because there was too much dust to see where they were going.

At that moment he was shot in the head by a sniper.

Simon said: "It felt like someone smashing me across the face with an iron bar."

Shot in the face

The bullet went in through his left cheek and out of his right one, shattering everything in between.

Simon Brown's face X-ray
An X-ray shows how much damage was done to Simon Brown's face
After emergency treatment in hospital, he was flown back to the UK within days.

But his injuries were so severe he lost his left eye and is left with only 10% vision in his right eye.

During his recovery his parents made a video diary.

His dad Mike said it was a difficult time: "We had a lot of tears, a lot of hardship, we spent weeks walking on egg shells because Simon's been upset, in pain, I mean the lad's been in actual agony."

Simon's had to wear a metal brace on his head for around four months and has had more than 100 hours of surgery to rebuild his face and jaw.

He's just had his final operations. Scar tissue has been removed from his nasal passage to help him breathe and he's had a cosmetic procedure to even up the appearance of his nose.

Making a difference

Ian Sharp's the surgeon at Birmingham's University Hospital who operated on him.

"I think we've made a difference," he said. "I don't pretend to say it's perfect but it's better.

Teeth brace
Simon Brown had his teeth and jaw completely rebuilt
"It feels like he can get on with his new career, which is great."

Simon was compensated for his injuries and has now chosen to leave the army rather than take a desk job.

He's hoping to become a teacher and already helps out at a local charity for teenagers struggling to find work.

He also volunteers for St Dunstan's, the charity for blinded servicemen and women.

He led their parade at the Cenotaph war memorial in London.

Simon says he has no regrets: "At the end of the day, if you look at how I did get injured I possibly saved six people's lives that day.

"If I'd have chosen a different route would that day of ended differently."

Simon's story was on BBC One's Inside Out in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

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