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Now displaying: October, 2019
Oct 3, 2019

 ALB57 – The Man who stood on an IED

 Who is Mark Ormrod?

 On Christmas Eve, 2007 Royal Marines Commando, Mark Ormrod was out on a routine foot patrol in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan when he stepped on and triggered an Improvised Explosive Device. He was airlifted via helicopter to an emergency field hospital when an innovative and dangerous procedure saved his life. He woke up three days later back in the UK with both legs amputated above the knee and his right arm amputated above the elbow. He was the UK's first triple amputee to survive the Afghanistan conflict. Doctors told Mark that he'd never walk again and that he should prepare himself for the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Mark thought otherwise, though. And he hasn't used a wheelchair since 2009. 

 Today, Mark Ormrod is a motivational speaker, performance coach, mentor and role model to other amputees, and an ambassador for the Royal Marines Association. He's also the star of a documentary called "No Limits," gold medal winning athlete at the Invictus Games, and is currently writing the follow up to his 2010 autobiography, "Man Down." 

 Mark the Royal Marine….

 Mark joined the Marines heated and focused and just wanted to grow as an individual and squeeze the most out of this short time that we get on the planet. Mark finished his training when he was 18. Just a young lad, who by his own admission put a green beret on his head, and thought he was Rambo. Mark spent a couple of years just enjoying it. He was born and bred here in Plymouth. He say’s “once you earn that beret you walk around your chest out a little bit”, he got in a little bit in trouble, the first couple years, but then he knuckled down, and got focused. Mark has always been that kind of forward driven kind of way. 

 Mark the Marine, in the beginning, young, loving life, full of energy. Just out there being a lad. As we all do as we get older and we progress in our careers and our lives, we mature a little bit. 

Mark made a lot more mistakes back then, but he learnt from them, and moved on, some of the quote-unquote failures that he experienced, and the mistakes that he made, made Mark feel a bit down about them, but as he’s got older he’s realised, they weren't really failures, as he’s learnt from them, they were mistakes, but again, he’s learnt from them. 


People always ask Mark has he always been this way, has he always been motivated, driven, and the short answer is yes. 

But from his perspective, it took him losing both his legs and right arm for him to see it. 


Mark’s first taste of combat…..

Mark was 19 when he had his first taste of combat. He had started his training in February 2001. 62 young lads started, only 12 of them made it through the training. 

Four weeks before Mark finished his training, and was halfway through the live fire exercises, he was in the NAAFI and witnessed 9-11. 

So Mark passed out and become a Royal Marine, it was looking likely that Mark would be deploying to Afghanistan early 2002 for ‘Operation Jacana’. Now, for whatever reason, that didn't happen to the scale it was meant to be. It became quite a SS, Special Forces kind of thing. 

So Mark didn't go after all, but then Iraq came around 2003. That then became his focus, Mark was one of the first guys on the ground, working out of what's called now 30 Commando. Mark spent a couple weeks in Kuwait, just waiting, sat in trenches, just on that border of Kuwait, Iraq, ready to go over, he got given the signal and went.

Mark came away from that tour feeling a little bit disappointed. He was all geared up, ready to put to test everything he had been training for but that didn’t happen, he thought he was going to be down on his belt buckle with a bayonet in his teeth crawling through the sand and doing this for three months solid, because he was a young lad and thought that's what going to war was.


What happened next?

So, Mark came home, despite the lack of activity in Iraq he still felt like he had evolved a lot. He went to Norway a couple of times, endured some survival training out in the snow. Mark then boxed for the Marines a spot had come up for the boxing team, and he thought that would be all right, he would do a little bit of training in the morning and go home in the afternoon. He underestimated that, four hours every morning, four hours every afternoon for eight weeks solid.

But Mark began to think about the fact, he hadn't really done what it was that he wanted to do. His first daughter Kezia came along early 2005 and the combination led to Mark making the decision to leave the Royal Marines in early in 2006. 

Mark ended up working as a night doorman for a little bit. Mark was entitled to some money through the re-education system in the military, and flew out to South Africa, to retrain as a bodyguard, he was now 22 years old at that point, and thought he’d be walking around in an Armani suit, talking into his cuff, diving around protecting celebrities and that isn't what the job entails. In fact he struggled to get a job , despite having a green beret, despite having experience at war, despite having qualified at a really prestigious close protection training school in South Africa people wouldn't take him on, because he didn't know anybody to get my foot in the door. 

Time to re-join the Royal Marines……….

So, after a little period of soul searching, life not going great, really not happy with the way things were heading, Mark decided to re-join the Marines, which he did early 2007. He re-joined to 40 Commando who are based up in Taunton, and were next in the roster to go to Afghanistan. Mark did have a choice where he could have gone, it was either the Commando training centre in Exmouth which is a non-deployable unit, or 40 Commando who are next on the rotation. And he kind of felt it would have been a good tour for him.

He didn't know what to expect. He was basing it on my tour in Iraq, but because his life wasn't where he wanted it to be, he thought it would be healthy to get out of the country, just get away from all the distractions and things going on, reassess his life, reprioritize, come back and take it in a more positive direction. So, he asked to go to 40 Commando, Mark got to the unit, went through all the pre-deployment training, and he knew from the minute he did that it was going to be different because the training was different. It was a lot more intense, a lot more in detail. 

Mark deployed for Afghanistan the 7th of September, 2007.

Christmas Eve 2007 – 

Christmas Eve, Mark and a group of his friends were called up to the headquarters compound and given a brief on the next foot patrol. It was a very brief brief, because the idea was that we they would leave the rear entrance of their camp in two sections with eight men in each section. One goes north, one goes south. They were told to patrol the immediate perimeter of the camp and not go any more than 300 metres. Before that, these patrols would be out for four, five, six miles. Eight, nine, ten hours. It was just a quick get your boots out on the ground, show the enemy watching you that you're still out there doing something, even though we're not really doing anything, come back in the front entrance of the camp, so now the opposite side, and then you have a couple of days R&R, open your cards and care packages from home, and try your best to enjoy Christmas, given the circumstances. 

When Mark and his fellow marines had nearly completed this routine foot patrol, Mark was required to get down on to his stomach, and as his right knee hit the floor, he knelt on and detonated an Improvised Explosive Device. 

Mark goes into detail about what happened immediately after this happened in the podcast. 


Strict procedures and processes got Mark out of there quickly and safely……

The team completely followed the procedure, from a military perspective, the key is discipline. It's the discipline that's beaten into them from day one. That there are these procedures and systems in place for a reason. And the reason is, it saves lives. And that's exactly what it did for Mark that day. 

Mark is told he will never walk again……….. 

Mark spent about four days trying to process what the Dr had told him and then figured out a plan forward. He didn’t know anything about being disabled. About six days after a guy came to visit Mark. His name was Mick Brennan, he had been injured in Iraq 2005. He walked into the hospital room with two prosthetic legs above the knee And he sat down and told Mark his story, told Mark what he had achieved, what Mark could expect to achieve. Mark started to research  triple amputees, prosthetics, just searching all over the world to see anybody who had his injuries that was living their life without being confined to a wheelchair. And he found some people and that was a massive motivator.

In that instant, the impossible became possible.

What Mark has achieved since is truly remarkable, but you will have to click play to discover just how remarkable.

For links to everything we talk about, including the video recording of the episode and transcription of everything we talked about, head over to the show notes at bigidea.co.uk/podcast.

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