A HERO Para who lost his leg after stepping on a landmine as he tried to rescue an injured comrade is being thrown out the Army as part of Ministry of Defence cuts.
Stuart Pearson, 37, formerly of St Leonards, suffered the horrific injury in September, 2006, while serving with the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, in the notorious Helmand province in Afghanistan.
He was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for his brave actions in Helmand, which saw his comrade and best friend Corporal Mark Wright lose his life. Mark was posthumously awarded the George Cross.
Stuart has found out that he will be medically discharged soon – against his wishes in the latest round of cuts by the MoD.
Despite losing a leg during in Afghanistan, Stuart has proved to be an inspiration to others, taking part in many charity events and working with other servicemen and women at Headley Court, the Help for Heroes rehabilitation complex.
The former Claremont High pupil joined the Paras in 1993 after fulfilling a life long ambition to join the armed forces at age 18. He joined a Highland regiment then opted for the challenge of the Paras.
Stuart’s mum and dad, Catherine and Harry, said their son was dumbfounded when he was told he was being medically discharged as he was determined to complete his 22 years’ service, which is just three years away.
Catherine said: “We are all really disappointed, nobody more so than Stuart. His life was the Army and that’s all he ever wanted to do.
“I refused to sign the papers for him to join when he was 16 and he had to wait until he was 18. He really wanted to make his 22 years’ service and is gutted that he won’t be to do this.”
An inquest into the Helmand incident which resulted in one death and six serious injuries, including Stuart, slammed MoD bosses for a catalogue of failings, including a lack of helicopters suitable for a rescue attempt.
Despite the landmine blowing off his left leg above the knee and causing severe injuries to his right foot, Stuart, who is now based in Colchester, amazed doctors with his recovery.
He was determined to continue his Army career, becoming part of a military skydiving team and was declared fit for duty in January, 2008, working mainly in logistics.
Catherine added: “Stuart’s achievements have been absolutely amazing and he has been a real inspiration. He has been heavily involved in helping rehabilitate other soldiers in Headley Court and has worked tirelessly for Help for Heroes.
“He believes it isn’t about what you can’t do but what you can and this is what he told another soldier who lost his limbs and was feeling really down.
“I think he is still shocked by what has happened but would never criticise the MoD or the Army. But who knows what the future holds now. At the end of the day there is nothing he can do so he will have to get on with life as a civilian.”
An Army spokesperson said: The care of all those wounded, injured or sick remains one of the Army’s top priorities. The Army Recovery Capability is focussed on providing a high standard of care for wounded, injured and sick personnel to help them make an informed choice about their own future.
“Every case will be assessed individually and no one will leave the Armed Forces until they reach a point in their recovery where it is the right decision for both them and the Army.”
Those who are discharged on medical grounds are entitled to the full resettlement programme.
This includes time which can be used for resettlement preparation, a career transition workshop, access to over 50 resettlement courses, costs to cover training, consultants’ support for up to two years, plus a variety of other support and briefings.