'It wasn't my time'

Soldier nicknamed 'Headshot' gives thumbs-up as he waits for medical help after being hit by a sniper in Afghanistan

  • U.S. Sergeant receives Purple Heart after suffering rooftop wound
  • 'It was like being hit by a train'
Talk about a splitting headache.
This is the incredible picture of a smiling and bandaged Sergeant Paul Boothroyd, who just minutes before had been shot in the head by a sniper while he manned the top of a compound in Sangin, Afghanistan.
His miraculous escape has earned the lucky soldier a new nickname - Headshot.
Lucky escape: Paul Boothroyd waits for a medivac helicopter after sustaining a sniper round to the head while on a rooftop in Sangin, Afghanistan
Lucky escape: Paul Boothroyd waits for a medivac helicopter after sustaining a sniper round to the head while on a rooftop in Sangin, Afghanistan
Speaking to The Marine Corps Times, Sgt. Boothroyd said: 'It was a one-in-a-million shot that the sniper was even able to hit me.
'And a one-in-a-million chance that the bullet didn’t destroy my brain. It wasn’t my time.'
The lucky escape came early March 4 in Helmand province.
Sgt. Boothroyd, attached to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, was on a rooftop providing over-watch for a local security patrol.
Suddenly coming under fire, Sgt. Boothroyd said: 'I got hit by the first bullet.'
He said: 'It was like being hit by a train.
'I remember what I was doing. I remember being hit, then I was face down in the mud on top of the building.
'I really wasn’t terribly concerned because I could hear bullets whipping above me, but I still had the presence of mind not to stand up.
'I thought, ‘Well, I don’t have any brain damage, at least at this point.
'My lieutenant pulled me to the edge of the roof so they could take a look at me.
'I got a little upset when they were pulling my Kevlar off. I said, ‘Hey, if that’s holding my brain together, I’m going to be upset if you take it off.'
Sgt. Boothroyd's kevlar helmet didn't stop the bullet, but managed to twist its trajectory so it buried itself just behind his ear instead of barrelling into his skull.
Two days after the incident, Boothroyd was transported to National Naval Medical Center Bethesda, Maryland Surgeons on March 16 removed the bullet with no complications.
Boothroyd, who received the Purple Heart for his combat injury, now keeps the bullet as a memento.
Speaking about his 30-day recovery, he added: 'It’s one of those things where I feel like I’ve been given an unearned vacation.
'In the surgical ward, I was only one of two gunshot wounds. Everyone else, they’re all guys who have lost legs to [improvised explosive devices].
'I look at those guys, and I think, ‘Do I really deserve a Purple Heart compared to these guys.'
Boothroyd said he hopes to return to Afghanistan for a second deployment this autumn, if possible.
In the meantime he is staying at home with his wife, Ashley, and two-year-old son, Paul.
 
 
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