Afghan hero Mark Ormrod quits army after being forced to buy his own artificial legs

May 24, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A Royal Marine dubbed a ”real hero” by Prince Harry after he lost both legs and an arm in Afghanistan has quit the military – after he was forced to pay £26,000 for new limbs.

Commando Mark Ormrod, 26, nearly died after he stepped on a Taliban landmine while he was on patrol in the Helmand province on Christmas Eve 2007.

He was later fitted with “standard issue” artificial legs at a military hospital but says he struggled to walk move more than a few paces on them.

Mark managed to walk down the aisle to marry wife Becky last year but says he spent most of his life using a wheelchair because the legs were too painful to use.

He later found a company in America which made special ‘sockets’ to attach the legs to and help him walk free of pain.

But the Ministry of Defence refused to pay the £26,000 cost and Mark, of Plymouth, Devon, was forced to ask a wealthy friend to sponsor him.

Mark said the decision left him full of ”ill feeling” toward his bosses after he ”almost died” for his country and will now leave the forces in July.

He had his standard limbs fitted at Headley Court Military Hospital Surrey and was later dubbed a ‘real hero’ of the war by Prince Harry after he met him at a medals ceremony.

Dad-of-one Mark said: ”I had feet, shins, and legs up to the knee, as well as the sockets, fitted at Headley Court but I couldn’t walk far.

”The sockets weren’t working properly. They would rub, chafe and my legs would often fall off if I sat down.

“While doing my own research, I found a company in America that built specially-made sockets which would help me to walk properly on my new legs.

”I am angry that I found something that could make my life so much better and I was refused it. I almost died for my country and think I deserve legs that work.”

Mark, who has been working as a clerk at 42 Commando, flew to the USA where firm Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics fitted him with temporary sockets.

He later returned to have carbon fibre ones fitted but was only able to pay the costs thanks to a generous friend.

Mark said: “I was incredibly fortunate that a friend of a friend, who is a successful businessman, came forward to sponsor me for the treatment.

”I flew to America for the first time in June, where I was fitted with the temporary polypropylene sockets. Then because they were a success, I went back to have permanent carbon fibre ones fitted.

”I also got running legs and a new arm. Before I was only able to walk for short distances, but now I never have to use a wheelchair and I’m living a normal life.

“The Ministry of Defence’s decision has not sat well with me and I would be lying if I said I didn’t have some ill feeling towards the military.”

Mark will now leave the Marines and will work with the Talking 2 Minds charity as a therapist, treating war vets who suffer with post traumatic stress disorder.

An MoD spokesman said: “Where personnel have gone to the United States for rehabilitation it has been a private and personal decision. The quality of the rehabilitation at Headley Court is first class.

“The MoD is engaging with US military rehabilitation counterparts, and the US rehabilitation provider, to develop a better understanding of their techniques.”

Mark has written a book about his time as a Marine called Man Down which is available in bookshops and online for £16.99.

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