A former Wakatipu High student who had his legs blown off in Afghanistan has spoken of his ordeal.
Curtis McGrath told TV One’s Sunday programme – which aired at the weekend – that he’d repeated to himself: “I’m not going to die here, not in this s..thole.”
It became the mantra of the former Queenstowner as he waited an agonising 45 minutes in the aftermath of an explosion which claimed his legs.
Mcgrath, 25, was serving as a soldier in the Australian Defence Force when an improvised explosive device detonated in Afghanistan two months ago.
Both legs had to be amputated below the knee.
“I don’t remember the blast, I don’t remember the shock…all I remember is opening my eyes and it was dark, lots of dust falling and really, really quiet, like silent, and I look down at my legs and they’re gone,” he told Sunday.
Despite his grave injuries, Mcgrath – an advanced first aider – still maintained enough composure to instruct his fellow soldiers how to properly assist and care for his injuries.
“I was like…get this first aid kit, get it out, I’ll show you what to do just do it, hurry up, hurry up.”
Knowing he was 45 minutes from help, Mcgrath says he was concerned about the long wait for outside assistance.
“I kept asking how long for the chopper…it just seemed like forever. That’s when I thought I was going to die.
“It’s the waiting that kills you.”
Throughout the ordeal, Mcgrath told Sunday that he kept repeating to himself: “I don’t want to die here, I don’t want to die here.”
In spite of his life-altering injuries, Mcgrath remains positive for the future.
“I’m never going to forget what happened, ever, I’m always going to be grateful to the guys for what they did to me.
“I think a challenge comes along in life and you’ve got to accept it and you’ve got to get on with it otherwise you’ll be down in the slums for the rest of your life.”