Injured soldier aims to be walking again when Grimsby Town return to Football League
A SOLDIER who was nearly crushed to death by a toppled wall while serving in Afghanistan has vowed: "I'll be back to watch Grimsby Town get their promotion."
Guardsman James Johnson, 29, has a severely injured spine and only a 40 per cent chance of getting back on his feet following the accident on the frontline in Helmand Province.
The avid Town fan has told how the Mariners getting back into the Football League is his focus.
From his hospital bed in Pinderfields Hospital, in Wakefield, James told the Grimsby Telegraph he is positive and getting stronger each day thanks to the messages of good will from friends and relatives.
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It is a far cry from the knock on the door of his home in Cumberland Road, Cleethorpes, at 2am on August 16, when Ministry of Defence representatives informed parents Carole and Edward that he'd been hurt.
They rushed to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, and remained by his side for weeks on end.
James, a former Humberston Comprehensive School pupil, is now in the specialist spinal unit at Pinderfields.
He said: "I am determined to get back up as much as Grimsby are into the Football League.
"Everyone has been a huge support and I want to thank them for all the messages and cards and those who have been to see me in hospital. It has all helped."
James also thanked the fellow Guardsman who saved his life by raising the alarm when the wall buried him.
Some of the boulders were so heavy it took five men to lift them off him.
James was immediately flown to Camp Bastion and then transported to the military hospital in Birmingham.
At home in Humberston, mum Carole said: "It is difficult for us at the moment and it's going to be for some time.
"It has been a real challenge, but James is positive about the future and always looks on the glass as half full.
"Like many families, your main worry is him not coming home. You don't really contemplate this. Everyone's world is turned upside down."
Carole said the wall which crushed her son had taken a pounding after some fierce fighting.
She said: "It was just bad luck he was under it when it came down, but he was lucky one of them was able to get help, otherwise he could have died under the rocks.
"His legs don't work, but when you see the others alongside him in hospital, many of them do not have theirs."
James has battled through the treatment and, at one point, was in an induced coma for five weeks.
His parents have been by his side for almost all that time, staying at accommodation in Birmingham, courtesy of forces charity The Soldier, Sailors, Airmen Families Association, and then travelling each day to Pinderfields.
Carole, who fosters a number of children with her husband, an electrician at Cherry Valley, said: "No one can appreciate the impact it has on a family until you have been through it.
"You visit everyday, day after day. It is like Groundhog Day. It is continual. I am meeting myself coming back. All you can do is sit there, but you would not want to be anywhere else. It is going to be a long time, but he is alive and life carries on."
She told how her son had lost a number of his comrades on his tour of Afghanistan.
"There were many more injured and that is the part you do not hear much about," she reflected.
"It is nice that people are concerned and ask after him, but nothing is changing and it is tough.
"Thank goodness the children have good friends with parents who have been a big help."
James signed up for the Army five years ago and was welcomed at the Army Careers office by the late Matthew Telford.
He also knew fellow Guardsman Jimmy Major of Cleethorpes, both killed in Afghanistan in November 2009.
James took part in The Queen's Trooping of the Colour in 2011. He was also representing his regiment in Kuwait for the Liberation Day celebrations last year to mark 20 years since the nations was liberated from Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
James was serving on his first tour in Afghanistan, which began in March. He was due to return to the UK in September for training for his Corporal exams.
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