Everyone knows that there was Royal wedding in England this past weekend. One could not avoid the news of it as it was on every news station. All of this royalty stuff seems a bit frivolous, and pompous to most Americans, though it is clear that many were fascinated by the pomp and circumstance surrounding it. And many were drawn to the uncommon love story romance of it, I suppose.
For the Veterans Site, there is an element to this story that is also familiar. What is that? Prince “Harry” is a true to life, seriously badass, combat veteran.
According to We Are The Mighty, Harry joined the military in September 2004. In May of 2005, he entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. The United States Military Academy at West Point would be an American equivalent to Sandhurst.
Though a member of the Royal Family, Harry did not want to be treated any differently than his fellow cadets. He went through the 44-week intensive training with his fellow cadets and, because of the visibility of his royal name, he went through the training known simply as “Officer Cadet Wales.”
When Prince Harry graduated from Sandhurst in 2006, he was assigned to an armoured reconnaissance unit as a troop leader. His unit received orders to be deployed to the war zone in Iraq, but Defense Secretary John Reis found out about it and, not wanting the bad publicity of a member of the Royal Family being wounded, killed or captured, he prevented Harry’s deployment.
This did not sit well with the prince.
He was quoted as saying, “If they said ‘no, you can’t go front line’ then I wouldn’t have dragged my sorry ass through Sandhurst and I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
This royal was serious about his military career. He wanted to fight with his brothers and to do what he was trained to do, to lead troops.
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He got his chance in 2007 when he was “secretly” deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan as a forward air controller. Helmand Province was then, and continues to be, one of the most dangerous and hotly contested areas in Afghanistan. A forward air controller is a “front line” specialty. It would be the same as one of our “joint terminal attack controllers.” Their function is to direct combat aircraft engaged in close air support of troops on the ground. This is done from a forward position with combat units.
While on a patrol in Helmand Province with his unit and a unit of Gurkhas, they came under attack by a determined Taliban force. Harry was reported to have jumped up to take over a .50 caliber machine gun and to begin laying down suppressive fire. He and his unit successfully repelled the attack.
He did this and much more while in Afghanistan that year, and all the while the people back home in Britain had no clue that he was even over there. The secret was well kept. But those who fought with him know exactly what he did and how he conducted himself as a soldier with them. He was one of them and they have a great affection for him.
He would return home after Afghanistan and be trained as an Apache helicopter pilot. He proved to be a very good one too.
He would return to Afghanistan as an Apache pilot. Again, there was an attempt to keep this under the radar.
Prince Harry was just one of the Apache helicopter pilots in his unit, though he served under the pseudonym, “Captain Wales.” Somehow the Taliban leadership found out that he was there and they gave orders to all of their forces to take him out.
The Brits got wind of that, but it didn’t phase Capt. Wales. In fact, his flights and close air support missions were increased.
Prince Harry would leave active duty in 2015, but he has remained deeply committed to his brother veterans. He gives his time and attention to many causes related to veterans and especially to wounded warriors.
He is remains closely involved with the “Invictus Games,” which he created. These are international, adaptive, multi-sport events for wounded warriors. “Invictus” is Latin for ‘unconquered.’ Harry is also involved with Walk With The Wounded, and his Halo Trust and the London Marathon Charitable Trust. The Veterans Site sends its congratulations to the new Royal couple, Prince Henry and Princess Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. We hope that they will enjoy a full and happy life together.
The Veterans Site also wishes to express its respect and thanks to Prince “Harry,” a brother warrior who has been there and continues to commit himself to “covering our six,” especially those who have been wounded. We offer you a collective hand salute.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.