Point Man - Mark Townsend
This is an amazing poignant read, it is not so much about the war in Afghanistan but rather the effect such a conflict has on the human mind and spirit. Kenny Meighan always wanted to be an infantryman, just like his dad John and his dad before him. John was an infantryman in Northern Ireland and the death of a close soldier/friend was one of the many scenes that were to haunt him when he left the services. One day on civi street a firework celebration sent him over the edge and he spiralled into depression and alcoholism attempting to take his life on no more than 9 occasions. Kenny loved his dad and knew that he could cope with war but as a Point Man in Helmand province, the pressure was to prove too much and when he finally returned back to England..his life also went out of control. As a Point Man he lead his men from the front, seeking out all hazards and assessing them before the patrol continued, and as Point Man he would naturally be the first man to be shot at by the waiting Taliban. There were two real turning points for Kenny whilst on active service; the first enemy he shot, had in his sights was nothing but a young man like him fighting for a cause, and the death of a close friend who stepped on a improvised explosive device (ied) his remains being collected in a body bag by Kenny....how can you return home to a normal life following exposure to war on this scale..the answer is you cannot and remain sane. Kenny returned to the love of his life,his girlfriend, and life spiralled downwards...how could he cope with no job (although finally getting a job as a bus driver)and a world that just did not understand the type of sacrifice an infantryman gave, people only concerned with their own paltry and greedy existence. In essence this book is a story about the human spirit and the failure of a system/government/people who cannot understand or have any idea of the effect on war on that spirit. It is a humbling but hugely important read and a memory that will stay with me for a very long time...to people like Kenny Meighan we all owe a great deal....