A DECORATED war hero has said he is quitting the army after becoming disillusioned with military life as the war in Afghanistan draws to a close.
Lance Corporal Wesley Masters, a medic serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps, has completed three tours of duty in Helmand province.
After his most recent deployment, he was awarded the Military Cross for acting with selfless disregard for his own life to save his friend, Lance Corporal Simon Moloney.
He ignored heavy Taleban fire to deliver life-saving treatment to L/Cpl Moloney after he had been shot through the neck.
Despite being praised for his bravery, L/Cpl Masters said he had never regarded himself as a hero and felt men of his experience were being undervalued.
He has resigned from the army and will leave within three months, saying that now the conflict in Afghanistan is all but over, many are finding it difficult to go back to the normal routines of military life.
L/Cpl Masters, 25, from Somerset, said: “There are a lot of us who have done a lot of good work in Afghanistan and gained valuable experience. Now we’re being told we need to go back to basics and it feels like we’re being treated like idiots.
“I feel like we’ve earned more respect than that and it just doesn’t feel right. I can only speak for myself, but when you’ve done what we’ve done, it is very difficult to go back to playing toy soldiers on training exercises.”
L/Cpl Masters is currently attached to the Royal Household Cavalry, simulating the enemy as part of the army’s biggest training exercise of the year at the British Army Training Unit Suffield (Batus) in Canada.
Lieutenant Colonel Denis James, from the Royal Household Cavalry, said that soldiers should not lose interest in military life because one conflict was reaching its end.
He said: “When the Iron Curtain came down and the Berlin Wall fell, there were many people wondering what the future held for the army.
“Afghanistan is this generation’s version of that but the army remains as exciting and challenging an organisation as any in our country.
“Nobody knows what will happen in the world – you only have to look at Ukraine and IS [Islamic State] to realise that the army still has a role to play.
“We are used to dealing with a very specific enemy in Afghanistan and we are now returning to conventional warfare, which is all about returning to our basic skills and drills.”
L/Cpl Moloney, 23, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, was also awarded the Military Cross in March this year for his courage.
Despite his throat injury, he continued shouting critical information to his comrades, which enabled them to win the firefight in which they were engaged.
Even when a helicopter arrived to evacuate him, he had to be ordered to get on board. rather than staying in the battle.
Reliving the moment he saved his friend, L/Cpl Masters said that he had merely acted on instinct.
“We had set out at first light to clear a compound and it turned out to be a Taleban stronghold,” he explained.
“We found ourselves surrounded and came under heavy contact for several hours.
“When I heard he had been hit, I rushed to him under fire and looked after him for one and half hours as we came under attack, before I could get him out. He was airlifted out and I returned to carry on fighting.
“Afterwards, when he heard what I’d done, he told me I was mental but it was just my job and anyone else would have done it.”
“He was already a very close friend and this has made us even closer.”