Sergeant serving in Afghanistan returns home to celebrate her 30th birthday
AFTER being in a war zone for four months, this birthday girl couldn't wait to see her family and enjoy the girly things in life.
Sergeant Jody Mardling, from Grimsby, is a combat human resources specialist and chief clerk in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan – but came home for a few days to celebrate her 30th birthday with her family.
Jody, who dearly misses her 6-year-old daughter Megan Keenan, was back for two weeks and enjoyed a makeover with friends, as well as a party at Lacey's above The Punchbowl, in Cleethorpes.
She joined the Army in 2001 at the age of 18, and has had many highs and lows during her time in Afghanistan. One of her favourite memories was meeting footballing star David Beckham in 2010 as well as TV's Gethin Jones and Radio1 DJ Greg James last December.
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But one of her worst ordeals was dealing with the death of her friend, Cpl Channing Day, a medic who was sadly killed in action last October.
Jody, who sorts out pay, admin and mail from friends and family for the 73 Armoured Engineer Squadron and 21 Engineer Regiment, said: "It has been great to be back home because you never know 100 per cent sure if you are safe in Afghanistan.
"You always have to be on your toes and fully focused – but here I have been able to relax and enjoy doing girly things such as doing my hair, nails and make-up.
"I have loved seeing my daughter Megan, especially because I didn't see her at Christmas. She has coped with me being in Afghanistan so well and she is so brave.
"I keep in contact with her by calling her as much as possible and she sends me little videos to keep me updated."
Jody said she has found it difficult to sleep because of the four-and-a-half hour time difference.
She said: "Also, there has recently been cold nights up to -10C. But it will be warming up soon over there.
"I have also missed having a bath because we only get to use showers."
Jody was on "cloud nine" when she met David Beckham back in 2010 when she first went to Afghanistan.
"I couldn't believe it when I met him; he's my hero," she added.
"He had a football injury which is why he could come out and he even had lunch with us. He is a lovely guy.
"When I met Greg James in December he gave my daughter a shout-out for Christmas, which was great."
Jody is a keen charity fundraiser and recently raised £4,000 for Combat Stress in memory of Channing by completing the Insanity 60 Day Workout in 48 hours with the team at Camp Bastion.
She said: "It was really hard losing a good friend because you are really close-knit with people who you live with in the camp. We met in 2010 and she used to even visit me at home.
"The camp completed the Insanity challenge in memory of her and it was really tough.
"Two people had to be doing an exercise all the time."
Jody was returning to Camp Bastion today.