Episode 8 – Sean Jones MC

Michael: My name is Michael Coates. I am a former fire fighter but I am also a former soldier. It is the
stories from the individuals within this military community that I am desperate to document. This
episode delves into Afghanistan and what it was really like for a front-line soldier. We also talk about
how a robust professional individual can go from planning and attack and winning the Military Cross to
planning his own suicide. Episode 8, Sean Jones, this is Declassified.

Michael: Look mate, we are pleased to have you with us today and you are soon to leave the Army.
Do you reckon you will be proud to be a veteran, when you finally go ?

Sean: Definitely. I loved my time in the Army and I am not leaving necessary by choice. But I am
leaving because I’ve got to on medical grounds.

Michael: It’s a shame. We will take you back to November 2003. I am going to scan over this as we
have a load of content to cover and loads of valuable ground, I don’t want to get too bogged into this
November 2003 you initially joined the REME, recap badged after basic training and joined the Royal
Engineers did all the Royal Engineer training and ended up in 28 Engineer Regiment. How did you get
on with the Engineers?

Sean: The Engineers are great . They do a great job on what they do. But I did not fit in to well my
idea was to get the fastest way out of training to the actual Army as opposed to being in training for the
6 9 months. So, when I got there to my unit, I think I did not help myself too much but I tried to keep
my head down but there was an element of bullying going on in that squadron and I was 100% a victim
of that.

Michael: I think this is another conversation your thing with bullying initiation and all the rest of it. But
like everywhere things do happen and you get the occasional dickhead who thinks it is relevant but
Look these things happen. Didn’t really get on with the squadron but you did deploy on Herrick 4/5
with 28 Engineer Regiment RE.

Sean: Yes, I did.

Michael: How was it mate? As you were a young lad at this time.

Sean: Yes, I was quite young. We were part of the initial surge of troops that went in on the back of
the infamous 3 Para tour and we ended up in theatre and we ended up working in Lashkar Har District
Centre and we basically ended up being our own entity our own multiple working task DC and we were
working to a Colour Sergeant either from The Paras or The Royal Marines. So that tour whilst was not
hugely kinetic for us.

Michael: What do you mean by kinetic ?

Sean : In terms of contact – contact fighting.

Sean: There was a lot of fighting on that tour. For us we were securing the District Centre which the
suicide bomb threat was huge so we would need to keep at times a sort of iron circle around us so to
speak so that there was no cross in between our vehicles and stuff.

Michael: What do you mean by that?

Sean: If we pull up in a certain area and we are there to a do a job whether that is to show a force or
we were escorting somebody around that was assessing work that needed to be keep an iron cycle
type stuff.

Michael: Can you explain what you mean ?

Sean: We go out to take kids books and pencils and stuff. So, we would have to keep a barrior
around us, and it was quite pertentant with the suicide bomb threat to keep people away was the best
practice and if necessary, escalate the force through verbal warnings hand signs and

Episode 8, Sean Jones MCDeclassified Podcast

Michael: So, this is 2005 going into 2006. For those that don’t know Royal Engineer tasks are
generally things like construction, demolition, explosives. What was your role at this point ?

Sean: Essentially the task was for the majority of the Regiment however there was an overspill I was
not at the level to know the ins outs of why there was an excess but the turned out to be a number that
ended up working as a sort of multiple of 15 of us, working for either The Paras or The Royal Marines
that came in to free up some of their infantry to free up them to go to the forward locations and take
the fight on.

Michael: But still doing engineering tasks?

Sean: No all infantry tasks. I didn’t do one engineer task outside of that camp.

Michael: So, you were literally just doing an infantry role. So, what were you doing?

Sean: At the time I had not long been a Lance Corporal and I was basically doing top cover from a
vehicle and we did foot patrols throughout the night sometimes so it was basically I was either a 2i/c of
the vehicle second in command or using a bog stand private soldier in a section.

Michael: Are you getting much attack from the suicide bombers?

Sean: There was a lot. The threat was high in the District Centre where we specifically the target. I
don’t think we were the specific targets although we were targeted and some of the guys that were
there before us, they had a number of guys wounded in action by suicide bombers, but I think the
government officials were none the targets. We just happened to be patrolling around every sing le
day.

Michael: What is you average day ? does the local community know not to go anywhere near you?

Sean: The Afghan people are actually extremely on the most part peaceful individuals who just want
to get on with their lives. But we would get stones thrown at us at times but there were the odd
occasions when people don’t know what we are there for so they would approach us depending on the
… previous days you know you lower your stance and start engaging conversations and I remember
one particular day that I remember just being on guard more so than usual and there was a vehicle that
I saw a man walking towards in of our other vehicles that was in this protected area and the gs had not
noticed him I don’t know what the score was with them personally. It turned out it was me who had to
give the individual moaning. It’s started out with hand gestures.

Michael: How far away was he?

Sean: At this point 150 meters away but closing. So, I put my hand up to stop and move as best you
can. Then I start to shout my broken talk of Stop and then I tried to escalate it even more, but he was
just closing, and he was not diverting of his route, so my next course of action was I bought my
weapon to bear. I had a light machine weapon at the time. I had my weapon to bare. I tried to use
hand signals again . He would not stop. So, my next course of action was I opened fire on him, and I
don’t know how but every single round of that 3 to 5 bursts missed him it landed extremely close to
him but it was just like he stepped over them a surreal experience, but he kept walking.

Michael : Even after the shot ?

Sean : Yes. A weapon had just been fired people started moving around and the interpreter went
towards the individual and the interpreter sort of gaged he was trying to work out what was going on.
Another individual approached. It turned out the guy was deaf and dumb. He had no clue what was
going on. He was just walking. He was an older guy. Late 40s. But because of his build. Dress. I
assessed it as a threat at the time and I had gone through every form of escalation at that time. I had
done that. This guy was going on his merry way. He just walked off. Happy as Larry. Went off on his
daily joint.

Episode 8, Sean Jones MCDeclassified Podcast

Michael: Good job it was the engineers someone else more trained … Joking aside. You are young as
well.

Sean: I wasn’t even 20 at this point. At the time I was very angry at it I potentially could have averted
that if he was just hell bent on doing what he was doing. I had a few disagreements with a few
colleagues at that point. I could have potentially taken out a grandfather, father, brother, I could have
taken his life. I had gone through my escalation drills, but it would have been for no reason. That there
is free marketing for the Taliban which would have put ISAF troops in danger.

Michael: Is this kind of stuff on your mind when you are out there, and you are in in this risk area?
Because you mentioned it then you are almost looking into the future as well. If this happens what will
happen in the future. If we so this now we are accountable for these actions and we are also going to
be accountable for what is going to happen and you don’t want to.

Sean: I always got the bigger picture stuff I grasped that when I was younger that’s why I didn’t
confirm to the engineer side. The what if’s are so much higher when you are going to take a life. It is
not, what if we can’t . What if we can’t get this up in time. While it is going to have a knock-on effect,
but we will make do. But as an infantry side of life what if taking a life is on a different par different
level. So, there is always a what if to everything. What if very early on and I knew that what if to that
specific situation if I had done that what could have happened, we could have been targeted
specifically by family members – an eye for an eye – all that kind of stuff. So, I understood that culture
as well which was a big thing for me.

Michael: It is quite a mature approach. I have never heard it articulated like that. As the fact that as an
Infantry guy on the ground and it sounds obvious actually it just shooting someone today will affect all
my blokes tomorrow, Really. Or it could do, especially in someplace like that where you are out there
all the time. What was the rest of that tour like?

Sean: For me we developed a set of sorts of standard operating procedures that we would operate to.
The Royal Marine drilled us well and we did go to places where historically The Engineers were not
there. The out stations where the Royal Marines were at. One day we were on a patrol and we
wandered into a certain village no ISAF forces had ever been there before. We rocked up in this village
they were looking at us as if we were . There were some dodgy people there. You could just tell by the
body language. It was just a place you did not want to be in small numbers at.

Michael: Did you enjoy the soldiering aspects?

Sean: Yes, I really enjoyed it. I think if I had been in an engineer role, I would not have enjoyed it as
much. It would have changed my thought process post tour what I was going to do.

Michael: So, you got back in 2006 April time ?

Sean: Something like that

Michael: April 2006 and then you made a decision then to do what?

Sean: I started the process to transfer to The Infantry.

Michael: So, my Engineer mates who are listening to this I don’t know if any of them will know anyone
who had gone that way before. I think you loved it so much that role, it was a kind of obvious jump for
you.

Sean: I think that coming of the back of that and knowing what hard journey the infantry lads had
gone through while on that tour. What the Royal Marines had been doing on the grounds. It is just
something, the people you aspire to be like and follow. And I am not saying whilst was the Engineers
people like that but there were very few and far between. The culture in the Engineer is completely
different to what it is in the Infantry. There were not. Lots of characters that inspired you to go and do

Episode 8, Sean Jones MCDeclassified Podcast

something to be different to make change and I saw that through some of the characters that I met
briefly whilst I was on the tour. I remember one bloke. Royal Marine. Big lad. Shot on the shoulder.
On a patrol . Went back to Bastian. Got sorted out. And came back. Smile on his face, back in gym. I
can’t really work on my right arm, but I can work on the left. That was the mentality and our mentality
was slightly different, and I wanted to be around the former.

Michael: So how did the process go?

Sean: Not too well from the engineering side as it is sort of unheard of. Someone said to me “that is a
step down.” I found that extremely insulting even if I was not in the Infantry. For someone to say that
is a step down because I think that whilst The Engineers can consider themselves maybe higher
educated in school they are not as necessarily as higher educated in life as what some Infantries are.

Michael: I think it is relevant as well. I am not saying that just because I was in. I think I have a
well-rounded view on it. You go to Reme you go to Unit everyone thinks they are the best anyway.

Sean: I do agree everyone thinks they are the best. But for a comment it is almost belittling of
everyone in the infantry and I found that really hard to take and I was just starting the process and it
was a case to step down. And that sealed it for me. There was nothing anyone could have said to me
after that to make me change my mind. I think my paper work got lost and the phantom fairy came
and lost my paperwork a couple of times which prolonged the process and in the end I ended up going
to into a transfer fair it was like when people leave the military they go these fairs all the cap badges are
there to try and entice them to them or job companies trying to take them. I saw the PWRR
recruitment sort of team there and the RCMO from 1 PWRR was there. I told him what I wanted to do.
He said Brilliant. Happy days. Sorted my paperwork out there and then and it went back and fords to
the engineers.

Michael: So, you joined the Princess of Wales’s Regiment in Paderborn Barracks…settle in alright ?

Sean: I did settle in fine. There was a few hard to fit at first because turned up on my first parade with
my Engineer beret on as I did not want to wear their what they get presented with before I could get
told I could wear it.

Michael: Did that go down alright?

Sean: It has come down as bit of a joke from my peer group, I had to go and see the Sergeant Major
he was like. ” what are you fucking doing” I explained it . He said “I GET IT but io don’t want to see
you like that you are incorrectly dressed”

Michael: I am not surprised it went down alright with him

Sean : “Get yourself sorted out you are 1PWRR you are not Engineer anymore”

Michal: How long was it before you went back?

Sean: We deployed back to Afghan as an armoured infantry company in 2008 sort of back end of
Herrick 8 as the armoured infantry company. Only one armoured infantry company in theatre and they
had different times of rotation because it was such a big entity and a big job to get done.

Michael: We could go into nitty gritty of Afghan. But what was the overall difference. Suicide bomb
threat was high, and I am sure the atmosphere I a m guessing what were the main differences with your
role was it just the environment ?

Sean: The professionalism of soldiers in 1PWRR is phenomal and it is across most infantry units to be
fair . The professionalism is completely different. The rank structure is firmly in place in work hours. It
is not necearly mates and first terms it is very rank oriented.

Michael: Does that give you more structure on the ground in Afghan?

Episode 8, Sean Jones MCDeclassified Podcast

Sean: Yes if you are asking someone to do a difficult job. If you are best mates constantly, they are
going to be that’s not a great idea mate I am not doing that . People cannot hesitate they have to
respect you. Respect goes both ways but at the same time they are the section commander or the 2IC
and you have to inspire them.

Michael: Why was that decision making so important on this tour in Herrick ?

Sean: Before we left our 2ic had come from the Royal Anglican and had had a particular hard tour. I
remember a moment when he turned around to us in the training wing in Germany and pulled all the
guys and said guys this is going to be a tough one what we are going to be asked to do is going to be
difficult. I am going to get a box write your letters and I will put them in there and I will make sure they
get handed out if anything happens to you. He was as the OC that what he thought was best to do. I
didn’t personally do that

Michael: Did you not ? You were married as well.

Sean: Yes, I had married in 2008 to my wife Amanda. And our first child was born Sept 11 and I
deployed literally 2 weeks later, and she had a particular bad birth experience, so she was in hospital
for the best part of a week for the after birth as well. So, I had already cut myself off emotionally from
her in many ways because that was just my coping mechanism when I left. But I never really. It was
my child. My daughter. And I held her. But at first there was not this connection that I would imagine
you would have with a kid. Even though I loved her, and I knew it was my child and I knew I was going
away very shortly. So, for me leaving a kid behind was difficult but it was just something I could shrug
off and go and get on with things.

Michael: It is hard for people to understand this? But when you go into a risk area…

Sean: I have done it again with my other child it is difficult . Everyone manages things differently. I
thought to me cut myself off emotionally something goes wrong then it might be easier for them to
move on.

Michael: We fly out. We have overviewed this a bit. Correct me if I am wrong. This is an armoured
role in Herrick. Warrior armours at the time. Essentially tanks. How long have they been out?

Sean: I believe we were the second tour of Afghan to be using a Warrior. The Scott’s were there before
us. We were the second rotation of armour to go into theatre.

Michael: Why was that different? What impact did that have?

Sean: The warrior when it is utilised correctly it is a fierce bit of kit. Not only can you get within as
close as you want go to with an enemy position it has its main er.. a 30m canon and a chain gun on it
that fires … rounds . The vehicle itself is a big platform but then added to that you have got up to 7
blocks to get out of the back of it and go to close and destroy positions in close quarters it’s a
formidable platform to be honest with you. If you have in platoon it can carry out all sorts of missions
and taks

Michael: Was it plane sailing that tour ? You have this asset really what’s going on. Are they adapting
,

Sean: Yhe enemy it couldn’t work out what to do with that vehicle but was still trying to sort itself out
how to affect that vehicle? They could not work out how it could get hit and still be moving forward
they could not work out how the smaller IED would not really affect it too much. May break the track
but it could still move. They were trying to adapt their tactics which meant IEDs were getting bigger, so
they were getting used to utilising it on that ground and on that terrain is just horrendous . The dust
gets everywhere and effects everything.

Michael: The IED threat ? we haven’t really spoke about this with the armour and infantry role? How

Episode 8, Sean Jones MCDeclassified Podcast

were they adapting? As you are going out there doing your ops. Are you like smashing into the
Taliban? And how are they adapting. They are switched on people.

Sean: They are quick. They manoeuvre well they have decent supply chains good casavac. but you
know they would stand and fire at time and some of the platoons I know they would go forward into the
attack the platform the warrior itself would be firing it in they would go into a compound wall and just
open the door and open the compound gate and then 6 infantiers that were dying to get out and do
their job would then rush into what they had to do or whatever it transpired the situation was. I think
they couldn’t work that out for a while how best to and eventually it started to come down through the
him that we had to only utilise the vehicles for casavac and or road moves which to me signalled that
they were trying to say we were ruining the farmers’ fields.

Michael: Were the warriors getting hit?

Sean: Yes, my vehicle was hit. I was outside clearing a route from a job we had just done we had gone
through a dry river bed up a slope and we had already been across in the morning we missed an iED
essentially doesn’t matter how you spin it. We missed it. The vehicle hit it. I was about ten meters
infront of the vehicle and I got hit with shrapnel from that vehicle.

Michael: where about ?

Sean: My arse, top of my leg. The old forest Gump sort of joke. Is used quite a bit. It sorts of dazed
me quite a bit. I was conscious that the 2 guys I had out with me were very new lads literally got their
dessert kit and deployed to B company. I was conscious about them I was lying in the dust.

Michael: Were you down?

Sean: Yes, I was down I didn’t know I was hurt. I was sort of dazed, ears rining, shortness of breath it
took the wind out of me is sort of looked up as the dust was clearing. I looked at one of the lads Tom
and he sort of was a bit dazed. He was Corporal are you alright. I was like I think so. At the corner of
my eye I saw a shadow run. Initially I thought there could be some kind of follow up from the enemy
very quickly I realised it was the other guy who was on the ground and just scampered from his
position through scare fear initial panic reaction. The dust started to clear a bit more I could hear
screaming, shouting and my mate who was the driver was sat there and I could see it was on fire. The
turret. I don’t know his exact line. But I heard fire. And the way he was sort of moving and wriggling it
said it he was on fire. And he sort of sat there and to me I was in and out of it and I was sort of thinking
why he is not getting out and actually it transpired he could not engage the vehicle brake system
properly. He held that vehicle on a foot brake because he knew there were people in the back. He held
that vehicle on the foot brake until the command got out the vehicle pulled him out used the fire
extinguisher in there.

Michael: So, the guy is on fire?

Sean : Yes. He was not consumed in fire; it was his lower leg. He had correct equipment on for
driving so it was sort of almost like flash burns his legs were not deep burns he got casavac all the
same as me.

Michael: You are sort of playing this down. This guy is essentially putting his foot on the brake.
Knowing he could have jumped out !

Sean: He is a legend to me that there is selfless commitment that right there he knew there were
people in the back.

Michael: How long had you been out there?

Sean : Only been out there 6 weeks we had not been there for long. We had taken a causalty the week
before An IED strike the week before again shrapnel wounds to the backs of his legs but yes.


Episode 8, Sean Jones MCDeclassified Podcast

Michael: So, your injured he’s injured ?

Sean: Platoon Sergeant gets on top of vehicle. Section A Commander gets to me lifts me up and
realises I have blood down the back of my legs they lift me up on the top of the warrior decks as that
was the safest route got me to the back of his vehicle. He started to treat me and my friend Chicken
who was the guy who got burned. Got us to the back of vehicle. Obviously as this has happened.
Another chain of events is going on. The Company Sergeant Major is aware there are casualties and
he is on route to come and get us.

Michael: Sargent Major ?

Sean: Yes, he is part of the casavac the Company Sergeant Major will either deal with …. Or
What happens with us he personally took us to the aid station that was at district centre.

Michael: I know you had a lot of respect for your Sergeant Major. We had a brief chat. The way he
looked. I wanted to kind of say that as we have a period to time here and I don’t want to detract from
the fact that you have had some unbelievable blokes around you as well.

Sean: Ben Kelly, he is the epitome of what you want to be everyone, and any job find that man that
you respect and that you want to be and try and emulate what he is doing, and it doesn’t matter . If
you said his name, his knowledge of the infantry is just unreal.

Michael: He has cared for his lads and he got you back. You then flew, you initially got treated.

Sean: Yes, I got treated Camp Bastian. one or two operations there. I was a bit hazy and then I was
flown back to Selly Oak a day later.

Michael: Tell me how that was. What was the reception in Selly Oak?

Sean: First thing I noticed was there was lot of ambulances . There was a lot of ambulances turung up
to the hospital almost a convoy. I got there and I was put on a mixed ward, the first people I see. Oh,
they don’t look like military people to me.

Michael: what do you mean?

Sean: You could tell they were civis and I wasn’t I had gone to sleep in afghan and woke up in Selly
Oak and it is a big change to take. Culturally , smell, sensations all that sort of stuff. So, I am sort of
sat there my family there. This has all gone pretty quick and I just didn’t want to talk to anyone outside,
I wanted to keep the curtains closed and all this.

Michael: What were the guys in the room with. How were they responding to you what was the
reception?

Sean: I think they thought I was a bit ignorant and arrogant because I would keep the curtains close. I
don’t know if they knew who I was or not. I don’t know if they knew the rules for us military personal
rule, they get extra rations they get a welfare system, double rations that they supplement the NHS
with. Free tv free internet. They had to pay they were questioning why this is, why is that. And I just
wanted to turn around and say shut up. But you don’t want to say the do you realise what has just
happened. It was kind of hard to get into. They don’t know who I am. They just know I’ve loads of
visitors he has just turned up and he is getting all this attention. Which I was. Depending on how you
look at that and is it right or wrong. Why do they get extra care? And I understand that point of view.

Michael: And you did get exceptional care.

Sean: About a week later I ended up back in Germany and I ended up getting put on sick at home was
the phrase.

Michael: Talk to me about before we go there about when you got back. We have just spoke for a

Episode 8, Sean Jones MCDeclassified Podcast

while then, but your first child was born.

Sean: Yes. My first child was born Sept 11 and I saw her for a period and then I deployed and then I
am in the hospital in Selly Oak and I’ve sort of got this baby and I am sort of looking at this baby that is
mine and I just I had all my family around me as well. I just didn’t want to be there. I wanted to be
back in Afghanistan. I was sort of looking at my daughter. It was difficult everyone is trying to carry on
as normal. With me and part of that normality is here is your child and you know me and my wife never
spoke to much about this specifics of this but you know I could not there was not a massive bond
there with me and my daughter Darcie at that time so it was difficult for me to come out of a theatre of
war to being sat in a hospital bed not being able to move properly with a baby . So, it was really really
difficult for me.

Michael: So, you went back to Germany as a gamily for a bit or recuperation.

Sean: So I got put on a sick at home which is exactly what it says on the tin really. But you know the
rest of the battalion was deployed in Iraq at the time and run a camp while you ae way and I was
basically told that even though I am sick at home I still have to turn up for parade in the morning and I
still have to turn up for parade in the afternoon and then I can return home. So that meant I could not
drive I am sick at home and live in the block . It was sort of shrugged off and you need to parade. My
house was 20 mins from camp maybe 30 that time of year the snow in Germany was not great so my
wife was having to get up in the morning get my daughter sorted. I was having to get sorted she was
having to help me at times I was sort of the way get me in the car help me out of the camp. Let them
see my face for me to go home again. It was surreal to me I could not even be bothered to argue the
toss I respected the.

Michael: You one minute there is no bs whatsoever then there is more bullshit than you can handle.

Sean: So it is frustrating all I wanted to do was to be better and go back.

Michael: When you did go back ? out on the same tour correct me if I am wrong Feb 2009 ?

Sean: Yes, in the time of that

Michael: How was the rest of the tour as you had a couple of months let?

Sean: as soon as I got back I was on my first patrol and I was not fit enough to be there. It was a long
patrol it was arduous the weight was a lot. The ground was bogging at that time of year. I remember
getting back after thug patrol and fully out of my hands. I cried I was in that much pain. In the ground I
could quite easily have done it.

Michael: So, you were in a lot of pain and discomfort.

Sean: That is how I really saw that tour out to be honest with you to be in honest constant pain and it
was a shame there was just I wanted to be there so much, but I shouldn’t have been in hindsight. And
hindsight is a wonderful thing. I finished out the tour and it was , what it was , really.

Michael: I have a feeling we are going to move on, and I have a feeling there is more to that than meets
the eye. So, we will press on. So, you came back. Relationship with the family how is that ?

Sean: Me and my wife ahead always been good mates’ best way to start a relationship really isn’t it.
My behaviour probably started to change when I as back. I wasn’t I don’t think I was the same person
for a while really and I found it difficult to adjust when we got back to just normality. My closest friends
who were singles living in and I ended up going out drinking with them all the time. Going out all hours.
Getting into trouble with the police. All the cliques that come with that are said so open and it was
happening, but I didn’t really see it as that. I just saw it as I was just enjoying myself young lad in
Germany that’s what I thought it was. The Sergeant Major Ben Kelly comes, and he said basically you
need to go and speak to somebody . The behaviour I was exhibiting was not the behaviour of a married
man with a child

Episode 8, Sean Jones MCDeclassified Podcast

Michael : Who was a good soldier and wanted a career.

Sean: I was going down the wrong path so I ended up going to speak to the doctor who sent me to
the community psychiatric nurse a CPN who did an assessment on me and I started to receive some
treatment from the CPN or some talks, some chats they were basically. I don’t think it was a form of
treatment. But yes, just talk about what had happened why I was angry about stuff.

Michael: Was the behaviour just nights out or was it going through the day ?

Sean: I was very snappy at home snappy at work. I had never been a blue-eyed boy but there was an
aura of aggressiveness about me which had not necessarily been there before.

Michael: Violence or Aggression

Sean, I consider them both close lines. I was violent at time. I woke up . there were things that went
on in my relationship which not fair of me to speak about them in detail but there was a hold my hands
up and there was violence in our relationship and yes, I was not going down the right path.

Michael: Are you happy with what you said there?

Sean: I will have a think about it.

Michael. Okay. Okay mate. You went on a career course and you were still well and truly in the army
and you were looking forward to your career and you did quite an arduous career course which we will
gloss over and then you ended up back in Afghanistan on Herrick 15. So, you deployed September
2011.

Sean: So during redeployment training my wife became pregnant again. The baby was due in
November. I remember sitting down with her and saying the blokes are going to potentially need me
over this period and we had a discussion about how to approach it and she would like me home for
Christmas if I was not to come home and that’s the hindsight now having conversation that your wife is
agreeing with you not being their for the birth. about you not being there for Christmas both agreed to
miss is a conversation that is ridiculous I am never going to have that again and I went to the chain of
command I am not going back on that for the birth because.

Michael: Could you have had it if you wanted it

Sean: Yes, I had a very good relationship with my chain in command. I think the rule goes you can be
absent for you r first born but for the second you have to be present to look after the first born child so
that would have meant potentially 2 weeks paternity leave and the R & R slot which is potentially a
month away . the agreement was I would just take R & R at Christmas and I had my paternity leave
attached to my post tour leave. So, we sort of actually had that verbal agreement. I stood by it at the
time. Whilst I regret it, I can’t change it. It is what it is. I t was an agreement.

Michael: Was it selfish professional?

Sean: No, I was very selfish. I don’t know why she even agreed to it.

Michael: Supportive ?

Sean: She is very supportive. The military wife community are unsung heroes to be honest with you.
The amount of stuff they put up with is unreal. They can have all the welfare systems you want but no
support for them this whole journey for me no one has asked how my wife is the entire time. The only
thing that the wife gets briefed on is post traumatic stress. Is if you notice any difference in them when
they come back let someone know.

Michael: What was Herrick 15 like ?

Episode 8, Sean Jones MCDeclassified Podcast

Sean: Yes, we deployed to Kakaran village Which was still a contested area. Herrick was calming
down over that period. But we deployed to a contested area still and we got put into our checkpoints
and it was just a compound that had been upscaled with a sanga a sentry position essentially so you
know it was simple life simple living none of the mod cons really and we were given our mission by the
OC we were separate platoon, 4 platoon in another location and we had an HQ location in our area of
location

Michael: Talk to me about the ops are you still in warriors?

Sean: No, we are light. no vehicles. HQ had a number of armoured wheeled vehicles in any casavac if
necessary if they could get to them as there were very limited roads in that area. And resupply. So yes,
we the majority 95% of us were on foot for the entire time.

Michael: Were you getting contacted?

Sean: Yes. The first when we did the handover/takeover with the previous unit we would get to this
sort of point here we get shot at we return fire so to speak we almost withdraw the comments so yes I
was not getting a warm fuzzy feeling about a certain area and I knew by knowing our personality our
chain of command we would go without a shadow of a doubt so yes that unit left we took over
complete and started to push into these areas that were still contested and so we were in contact
pretty quickly from being there within the first few days.

Michael: Do you have experienced guys around you ?

Sean: We were a relatively inexperienced platoon. Platoon Sergeant had deployed before. I deployed
before the other Section Commander had deployed before. 2 privates so 5 of us out of 26 had
deployed before.

Michael: Fairly Inexperienced. The guys you led really well and the guys around you got hit junior guys
up to speed and there was one and I am not going to go down that tour but there was one operation
called Operation Argent that I want you to talk about and I want you to go for it.

Sean: These open arches as they were called are essentially advanced contact really and within the
theatre of Afghanistan. We were trying to stop alienating people getting into a massive scrap and
bringing in fast air. We wanted to secure the population and make them feel safe., you don’t do that
by shooting everywhere. Ip arch was designed got 11 or 12 small group to go into a contested area
called Kunjack and spark contact with the enemy so we could have a precision strike with them either
by a drone or an apache helicopter that was sat off from sight and sound. Fix a location and be a
precision strike causing no collateral damage.

We went in and low and behold nothing happened. We were sort of moving in to the village and coming
out of the village . We are going in a linear fashion. One-line slow methodical process. Make sure
there is no IEDs, so the route section was important. We had been out for a long time and the assets
and the apache were going off station, so we were leaving . They leave it was almost like the enemy
knew. They could not have known as they could not see any of the assets. And we had no support
and on the outskirts of the village. And we got ambushed while crossing a ditch. Now all of a sudden
you just . if you have been in contact before you know the difference between close rounds and a lot
of fire power. And this was close with a lot of fire power. There were automatic weapons opening up
on us AK there was their version of the underslung grenade launcher being fired at us and this was all
close proximity crossing a vulnerable point and I remember this tree and twigs had fallen everywhere. I
was trying to pull guys through a ditch, if anyone has been to Afghanistan getting cross these ditches
in the Winter, they are fully of water, needles, excrement you name it is in there. There is no cover .
That there is where they chose to ambush us. So as a commander you need to think very very quickly.
We got into this field and out and started to try and observe enemy firing positions I quickly observed
two position through muscle flash and smoke essentially of where the enemy was, and I started to
direct fire onto those positions.


Episode 8, Sean Jones MCDeclassified Podcast

We tried to manoeuvre back a bit to get ourselves into a bit of a baseline. I didn’t want to go back too
much further and neither did the boss because the ditch behind us it did not look inviting guaranteed
there was as IED in there. We continued to engage our positions I crawled across to the boss basically
turned around turned to him and said I can identify these positions there is little chance of collateral
damage here let’s take these positions. He had a pregnant pause there. Then what do you want to do.
My idea was I wanted to a traditional right flanking assault which you know isn’t necessary what
happens in a theatre like Afghanistan but the ground lay itself to that and it was the only way I could
have gone and he was right okay I am happy with that what do you need from me essentially . I briefed
him I briefed the guys that were left and what I wanted from them.

Michael: When you say right flank you mean move to the right?

Sean: Yes I wanted to come in at a right angle to assault the positions. So yes, we picked the blokes.
One of the blokes I wanted to come with me was absolutely chinned and said he can’t do it. I
respected him for that. Got across the ditch I chose three of the blokes one rifleman one guy with a
light machine gun and one guy with a riffle that had a UGL attached to it. Briefed them on what was
going to happen dropped of the gunner to fire me in as much as he could. The other riflemen or the
UGL to suppress a third position that I now identified. Put them in position call for rapid fire from the
rest of the guys left behind told Rob Lush who came with me every single step of the way that I did this
I told him to fix bayonets and we were going to start taking positions.

We crossed a ditch we had essentially went into individual fire manoeuvre across this open ground and
it was literally the rounds we are. the fire power was focused on me. At this point, there was dust
kicking up and yes it you could feel the thud into the ground. You could hear the thriiiiiiiiii coming
across your head if anyone has had a close shave with a bullet you know when it is close. And these
were close. So, me and him were moving across this ground and we get towards where the position is
here, and I was like briefed what we were going to do there and then we are going to take this grenade
and I a mo going to . Clear this position. I don’t know what it was it we a mixture of whatever the
emotions were. I knew I had been through that area days before. I knew there were people milling
around. Kids and there were just something inside me and to not go as noisily.

Michael: The Talban were in that position seconds before firing at you

Sean: I was just like I can’t. It was like an alleyway. I can’t throw a grenade in there I knew there was a
doorway there I just didn’t want to hurt anyone. So, the grenade went away. I said to Rob like mate we
are just going in there no grenades. When I drop you follow me, but I said just get in there and start
firing when I drop. So, I just put a fresh mag in got into this alleyway I was just firing single shots into
this alleyway I dropped down to a knee Rob came in took over the firing in the alleyway. The guy
literally seconds before the brass was still on the floor. He was withdrawing and extracting we could
have followed up bit I did not want to follow up at that stage. We moved back to where we had just
come from that is just seconds before our last bound positions. Saw the individuals running their
backs to us. I was not going to start opening up to people with their backs to us. Watched them get
into position and engage us again for which we started to supress our position. Meanwhile the other
guys and the rest of the multiple caught up with us. I briefed the boss on what had happened. I fired
more control orders that we could see and I ran across to Nick Tree and Wilson that I had left beyond
before where we were getting opened up on quite heavily gave my fire patrol order with his UGL to fire
he dropped short on the first one. The second one he fired and instantly the firing from that position
stopped. I assumed that was a direct hit on that position just how fast we stopped firing . We reeled
on the position.

Michael: You came back reorganised

Sean: Checked ourselves over redistributed the ammunition where necessary checked our self s over
so we were all good to go. Stayed there for a period. We were not going to walk away very quickly
because the idea was to show that we were not pushovers at the end of the day and yes… that was
pretty much that incident in a nut shell.

Michael: There is a lot more to talk about and we haven’t got the time. Needless to say, the actions

Episode 8, Sean Jones MCDeclassified Podcast

you took on that day you were later awarded the military cross. We came back from that tour in 2012
you and a few more career courses and I know this from a conversation we had . I want to get to a
point in time where it is relevant for this conversation, You were getting drunk a few of arrests you were
not being a role model to anyone around you but you had been a lot of leniency towards you because
of the actions with the MC. And I am going to really fast forward us from 2012, 2013… to 2017 . You
had been posted back to the UK as Colour Sergeant. There was a bit of time on leave. You had been
on no ops since 2012/13 when you came back. And then you went on a family holiday to Croatia.

Sean: Yes, so we I just before this holiday I had started to see a CPN again. Because I was just not
right, I knew there was something going wrong at the time, so I knew I had to speak to someone, so I
did but obviously I was moving so they had to transfer my care, so I had about three appointments.
So, before my first appointment in the UK we went on holiday to Croatia to close friends’ wives and
kids and stuff. First day I got there first time I seen them for a few weeks and feeling better that sort of
thing. Yes, I am good you know I had done for years I am fine nothing wrong with me I will sort it out in
my own time. So that was that first evening the second evening it quite surreal. I was sat up beside
the pool. Wives were inside doing salads or whatever. The lads were having a drink and a barbecue,
and I had withdrawn from both groups of people I was sat at the side of the pool. It just dawned on
me I am not making anyone happy I need to go and go and kill myself. I sort of sat there and thinking
about what I would do what is should do and shouldn’t do it like having a conversation with myself and
calm as you like. This was a normal decision. Sat next to the pool a book in my hand. I just thought
right I am not making anyone happy here I am causing problems definitely in my own relationship I was
off with the kids snappy with people .

Michael: How serious were you ?

Sean: 100% . The only reason I didn’t do it on the holiday was i didn’t want to ruin people’s holiday
and I ruined that holiday probably with how I was. It wasn’t even probably I was so moody I caused a
division between my family and the other three families to the point of it was a struggle for my wife
Amanda she really struggled because she didn’t understand she didn’t know any of this what I was
thinking. She just thought I was being moody. So, we actually on that holiday split up. She was like I
can’t do this anymore. I was like okay. Obviously, it wasn’t okay, but I had this façade okay we will
sort this out when we get back home type thing. I didn’t want other people to see the business. Airing
your laundry so to speak.

Michael: So, what happened when you went home?

Sean: So, we went home I sort of going further and further downhill. My first appointment with the
doctor back in the UK the doctor was she showed massive amounts of concern straight way from
whatever answers I had given her. And I was quite truthful with her to be honest I told her exactly what
I was going on. I’ve been struggling it was just something in me.

Michael: Was you always suicidal?

Sean: Literally on that holiday I just sat there that it was for the best.

Michael: Did the thought carry on during the holiday?

Sean: Yes it wasn’t not there something clicked in me and this was the best course of action for
everyone and I was quite cold about it and this is what the doctor was extremely worried about you are
serious it wasn’t a threat it was I have accepted this no I was going to do this. But she asked me some
very specific questions because after I told her it was like a weight had been lifted. It was like we will
get you in with the psychiatrists. It was like a plan with me this is what we will do. It gave me a bit of a
warm fuzzy feeling I turned around and promised her I am not suicidal now I was going to do this I am
not going to do that. So, she was these are the numbers you need to call if you feel bad. But in the
back of mind it was just a case of going through the emotions. At home is was going through my life
assurance policies my pacts to see how my family would be .

Michael. So, you were still feeling towards the kids you knew you had to look after them as well

Episode 8, Sean Jones MCDeclassified Podcast

Sean: Yes, I knew I had .

Michael: the decision you were making was going to impact someone else.

Sean: Yes I knew that I would have to leave them sorted stable and the only stability I could have given
them was financially. So, this went on for a few weeks and I ended up going and see a psychologist, it
was in London it was like a 4-hour round trip that’s without the appointment in the middle. It was
ridicules I was going there really worried about what was going to happen being worse off going home
so you know I was in disarray at points. So, I got home for my appointments and I was just a shell
really, I tried to say I was okay, but I wasn’t, and I am going downhill really quickly at this point. I didn’t
know what was going on all I knew was I needed to make sure they were okay.

Michael: Did you plan it again ?

Sean: Yes I planned it again I recced where I would go and do everything and made sure that was the
right place to do it and one night I left with the intention of not coming back said I was going to shop I
needed something like butter and but I went to the shop went out with the intention of getting what I
required and that was it.

Somewhere along the line just something clicked with me and I ended up on the beach because I lived
next to the beach in Hive. I sat on the beach it was a surreal moment just everything my senses
heightened. My sound I just could hear everything so clearly. My ears have had it so that was a
strange one. The rain started to come I was cold. I sat there for about an hour. I had numerous
missed calls from Amanda which I didn’t know I had it. I just didn’t know anything I just snapped to. I
just felt so calm. I got up started walking home.

Michael: Were you back?

Sean: No, we were separated still living in same place separate rooms, but she was really worried and
came looking for me. Found me. And I think that was the point where she knew it was quite serious,
but I didn’t think she knew how serious it was before that.

Michael: We are still in 2017, because Croatia was June. What month are we in now?

Sean: October /November now .

Michael: so, you didn’t (obviously) so you planed it. Any other times where this happened?

Sean: Yes, there was a second time in December. My wife, Amanda , she had gone a weekend
friends and I obviously had the kids and I just got this. I dropped the kids off at the school in the
morning. I had this overwhelming thing. It was like I had a split personality. Cartoon thing. Devil on
one shoulder and Angel on the other. One was going do it just end it now and one was no you can’t
do this get a grip of yourself. I look back on it now it was such a surreal moment but I end up having
this massive emotional blackout I was in my kitchen and it was going to be in the house and I just
ended up blacking out on the floor I remember being so upset and I was screaming that I am not going
to do it and yes just ….. ( breathing in)

Michael: Blacked out.

Sean: Yes, physically blacked out on the floor. I woke up not too long later and I am talking about 30
seconds something like that ( deep breathing in) woke up and I was that was difficult but again it was
just like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders briefly and I could breathe properly again.

Michael: When you woke up you weren’t suicidal?

Sean: No


Episode 8, Sean Jones MCDeclassified Podcast

Michael: You had stopped drinking for a little bit and in Jan 2018 you went on

Sean: Me and Amanda had been getting on really well we hadn’t told anyone we had split up we had a
really good Christmas I just bought a house with the intention of securing them so they could go live in
it.

Michael: So still undertones you were going to do it?

Sean: It was still there. I had been medicated at this point. I always had a thing with the doctor that I
did not want medicated but when you tell me I am going to be medicated? If you are telling me that is
different. So, I was medicated at some pointing October/ November time. So, we had a good
Christmas bought a house and me and Amanda went out for some food. Drank for a while and I just
didn’t stop drinking and drank myself to oblivion and got into a fight eventually. Don’t know who
started it potentially me.

Michael: Do you remember it?

Sean: Literally I remember 10:30 clear as day post of that time I remember nothing. And this we a
common thing with me I drink so much that I would not remember after a certain time and places fare
open o 6 in the morning so if I remember concert 10:30 at night there is another 7 hours missing now
sitting here saying it is quite worrying but at the time I was not thinking like that. So I had my jaw
broken at one side my mouth half wired shut and I had a disagreement with my dad on it and we drove
back down to our place in Hive we still had all our furniture down there and I took the kids to their first
day at school./. I knew I had a doctor appointment booked pre-Christmas it was the first day back for
people and I just said to the doctor No I am not safe. I am going to do it ( breathing in). The doctor we
like we need toes ort you out so that afternoon I was in psychiatric ward in Peterborough

Michael: How long were you in there for?

Sean: Just over 2 weeks

Michael: What was that like?

Sean: If you ever need a sobering place there are some not well people out there and after I had been
in there for a few days there are no shower curtains someone is watching you constantly I sort of my
medication was changed I started to balance out . There were some really ill people in there . Young
females that were just it was a culture shock. I thought I just need to sort myself out. There was a
young girl in there. It was a culture shock. There was a girl only 16 it was an adult ward. The reason
she was in there the kids wards which are up to 18 were full. And she came from a kid sort of school
trouble kids place down in Devon and there were numerous hospitals between here and there but no
room. That is shocking staggering, but she had eating disorders, all sort, bad childhood and she
would go and smash her head off a brick wall until she opened it up. What happens when you are in
18 and they release you from care. She said I have already planned it out I am going to go and kill
myself. That to me was like a really sobering moment. Not that I haven’t looked back since because
that the wrong terminology. I have looked back that point I accepted I wasn’t well, and I have just gone
up ever since and improved as a person which is brilliant.

Michael: We could talk all day mate, and this is by far the longest one we have done but I think it was
really relevant that we have done what we have done today. There are bits missing there is therapy and
medication and a combination of the two . There is awareness of yourself and acceptance and all
those other things. I just want to ask you one question and then we will finish. If your PTSD returns
again and if you do start feeling suicidal again and if that feeling comes back, I want you to give me
now some advice or give yourself some advice and guidance almost for your future self?

Sean: It is really not to keep this side of life in. There are things that need to be spoken about. Initially
if I have a close friend or my wife, I will speak to them. But there are professionals there and the
professionals help. They helped me so much. But the biggest thing is you have to go and ask for that
help. It is not going to come to you. You have to go and ask for it. Accept it. And ask for the help.

Episode 8, Sean Jones MCDeclassified Podcast

And they will help you. It is as simple as that. Talk to somebody and then talk to a professional.
Always make sure you always speak to a professional as much as we promote for people to come and
speak to me. As shoulder to cry on whatever it needs to be. I am happy to talk to people, but I always
tell them you must always go and speak to a professional as well.

Michael: We will put out on social media some helplines. Mate, thanks so much and we will leave it
there.