It's weird how people talk about war and don't really think about the people involved unless it affects them. I can't say anything because since I found out that my cousin, Ashley, was going into the army I have bleeted on about how you don't hear about all that many people dying considering how many are out there.
Blatantly I was trying to make myself feel better about the fact he was going. As the day neared that he would leave for Afghanastan I repeatedly said "he'll be fine", "he's coming back" and "he's excited to go, that's why he joined up in the first place".
Today the day has arrived and he's left. He's 20. With a family upset that he couldn't come home and say farewell last weekend (he was told he had to stay in Edinburgh) and a girlfriend patiently (though probably very stressed) waiting at home for the arrival of their daughter in March.
In the third rifles Ashley will join all the other soldiers out there fighting to regain peace. What a terrible time for the BBC to announce yet more deaths and the new Operation Moshtarak that could lead to more deaths. I know he's coming back. I wished him luck, his response "I don't need luck, I'm a rifleman" followed by a laugh. And he's a good one, he got best shot at his passing out parade (where the picture on theis post was taken) though that won't really help with bombs will it...
Here's wishing him luck and love.