A SOLDIER from Brighouse is home on leave after helping clear bombs in Afghanistan.
Sapper Matthew Jones, 23, has returned from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 32 Engineer Regiment.
In addition to their work setting up military bases and checkpoints, they had a vital role in clearing convoy routes of improvised explosive devices – the Taliban weapon which has claimed dozens of British lives and maimed scores of others.
Matthew and his regimental colleagues were presented with campaign medals after their demanding six-month tour.
The regiment provided engineering support to the NATO-led mission to prepare the Afghans to fully take over the security of their own country.
Matthew was based in Lashkar Gah and Nahr-e-Saraj.
The former Brighouse High School pupil, who joined the Army in 2005, received his medal at a ceremony at his barracks in Bergen Hohne in Northern Germany.
He said: “It was a very busy tour. One of my main jobs was to convert an old former school into a checkpoint, which was used stop the insurgents.
“We worked on that project for six weeks. We had to build four sangers, two kilometres of protective walling and two accommodation blocks.
“It was non-stop work and the heat was the most challenging part, especially with wearing the body armour.”
The 32 Engineers are part of 7th Armoured Brigade, better known as the famous Desert Rats, which supported 3 Commando Brigade during the tour.
Matthew’s parents Glenn and Gail, still live in Brighouse.
Matthew did a range of training exercises in Germany, the UK, Gibraltar and Canada in the build up to his deployment.
He said: “It’s been an enjoyable but hard year, including the training, and I have been looking forward to the homecoming for quite a while.
“My parents came out to Germany to meet me and it was nice to see them.
“It’s nice to get back to normal, to relax and to have a little freedom. I really enjoyed receiving my medal; it was my first tour and I am really proud.”