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Emotional return after Afghan tour; ARMISTICE DAY.

A NORTH soldier has returned from six months of rugged desert living while taking on the Taliban - and camel spiders.

Sergeant Stuart Hunter, 32, of C Battalion 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (3RHA), spoke about the demanding tour upon his return to his barracks in Germany where he had an emotional reunion with his wife Angeline, 37, and daughter Caitlyn, three.

Former Haydon Bridge High School student Stuart has also served in Iraq, Bosnia, Croatia, Oman, Kuwait, Cyprus, Kenya and Poland since he joined the Army in 1997.

He was one of 93 soldiers of Germany-based 3RHA to return after being deployed in mid-March as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade to Afghanistan.

They were instrumental in helping the Afghan army fight the Taliban and allowing the British Army to deliver a much-needed generator to the Kajaki Dam in Helmand Province.

Stuart said: "The land was very barren.

The cold nights were a nice break from the heat of the day but we still slept outside under a mosquito net.

"I have to admit the stars were amazing, you could see Orion's belt crystal clear without the usual interference you get from street lights in the big cities in Germany and the UK.

"However, we had to be wary of the local wildlife, particularly camel spiders. I remember a camel spider would visit me every night at about 9pm. I would just freeze until it wandered off."

Stuart and Angeline have two sons Liam, 17, who has also joined the Army, and Daryl, 19.

Angeline said: "The boys are older and obviously cope well. However, Caitlyn, our youngest, found it difficult and didn't understand why Daddy was away.

"As we have got closer to his homecoming, she has got more and more excited - marking the days off on her calendar. We are now looking forward to being a family again and are planning a holiday in Grand Canaria."

CAPTION(S):

TOGETHER AGAIN Sgt Stuart Hunter, wife Angeline and daughter Caitlyn are reunited in Germany.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 12, 2008
Words:334
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