A US officer who served shoulder to shoulder with Prince Harry under fire in Afghanistan told DailyMailTV how the king laughed at risking death while fighting the Taliban and simply calling himself "Harry."
Colonel William Connor has revealed the secrets of life on the front line with the Prince in 2007 and 2008, when the king served in the province of Helmand as a British cavalry officer during a fierce struggle with anti-government forces.
The member of the South Carolina National Guard, a veteran of the Army Ranger, took photos with the Prince, but also took refuge with him when missiles were launched against the austere base of operations they called home, and shared dinner of Christmas in a dining room a few hundred meters from the enemy lines.
Prince Harry's service came to an abrupt end when it was discovered that he was present in Afghanistan, and although he later returned to fight there as an Apache helicopter pilot, he spoke of his regret at not being able to fully serve with his comrades.
Now Colonel Connor has told how he witnessed the prince's coldness under fire, his good humor and his discomfort with special treatment due to his real condition.
Colonel William Connor served alongside Prince Harry on the front line in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008 when the real served as a British cavalry officer. In the image: Colonel Connor with Prince Harry in December 2007
Colonel Connor ran to hide with Harry when they fell under missile fire in the austere base of operations they called home. In the picture: Harry, 24, with a 50mm machine gun in Helmand province on January 2, 2008.
Colonel Connor watched closely as the Prince grappled with life on the front line of the relentless assaults by the Taliban. In the photo: Harry sitting on his folding bed in his accommodation in FOB Delhi in 2008
Now Colonel Connor tells DailyMailTV how he witnessed the prince's coldness under fire, his good humor and his discomfort with special treatment due to his real condition.
Colonel Connor was then older in the 218th Brigade Combat Team of the South Carolina National Guard and assigned as US Army liaison officer to Afghan forces in Helmand province, then one of the most devastated areas in the country. Afghanistan war and the theater of operations for British cash.
He was visiting an advanced position only 500 yards from the Taliban lines when he first encountered the Prince, who made a dramatic helicopter entry.
It was Christmas Eve 2007, and the outpost near Garmsir was one of the most dangerous places in the country, with heavy gunfire between British and Taliban forces when the helicopter landed.
"We knew there was going to be a VIP," said Colonel Connor, who was with a detachment of Ghurkas, British soldiers recruited from Nepal, at that time.
"The first thing I saw was some of the Ghurkas taking pictures with Prince Harry, he did not have security, he really did not expect any special treatment.
There were only two other Americans present, a sergeant and a captain.
"I told them, just keep your mouth closed on Harry's," he said.
"We spent the next week eating meals with Prince Harry."
The next day, Colonel Connor spent Christmas with Prince Harry at the Delhi Front Operating Base, manned by 150 British soldiers, some of them Ghurkas and some from Prince Harry's unit, the Domestic Cavalry, as well as the small detachment of the Colonel Connor and Afghan interpreters. .
But there was never any special treatment or additional protection for the 24-year-old VIP officer, who was known as Coronet, the equivalent of second lieutenant, Wales, and for officers who were below the rank of lieutenant-colonel just like Harry.
The Prince's deployment ended suddenly and dramatically when his coverage was blown up and news of his presence in the war zone shone around the world. Prince Harry talks to a Gurkha after firing a 50 mm machine gun at the Taliban fighters on January 2, 2008
On New Year's Day 2008, Harry fired his first shots in combat, in a British position at the sight of the enemy trenches. When about 20 Taliban were seen approaching and apparently preparing to attack, he claimed a post on a .50 machine gun and opened fire. In the photo: Harry holds an SA-80 assault rifle, which is a standard weapon for the United Kingdom military, while patrolling
Colonel Connor and Harry even worked together in the rudimentary gym, and they had to hurry to put on armor when an incoming missile alarm was fired.
In the image: Map showing where Prince Harry served in Afghanistan during his 10-week tour in 2007/2008
Prince Harry was deployed as a Forward Air Controller, or in the US Army. UU., A JTAC, Joint Terminal Attack Controller, responsible for summoning air and artillery attacks against the Taliban under his call sign, Widow Six Seven. In the photo: Harry with Meghan Markle on their wedding day in May
Hero Harry: the years of service of royalty
May 2005: Prince Harry enters a 44-week training course at the Royal Sandhurst Military Academy in Camberley, Surrey, to begin his training as an Official Cadet.
April 2006: Prince Harry is named commander of the army.
The Clarence House had announced earlier this year that it would join the Blues and Royals of the Domestic Cavalry.
May 2006: Prince Harry joins his regiment and informs the Armor Center of Bovington in Dorset for the Troop Leaders course.
October 2006: the king completes his course and rejoins his regiment in Windsor.
End of 2007 / beginning of 2008: Prince Harry works in the front line in Helmand, Afghanistan as an advanced air traffic controller. At that time, the information was kept secret to protect royalty and troops.
Harry is forced to return before publication when a foreign website broke the news blackout on his deployment.
February 2008: The Ministry of Defense confirms that Prince Harry had been serving in the British army in Afghanistan.
April 2008: Prince Harry is promoted to lieutenant in his regiment.
January 2009: Prince Harry begins training with the Army Air Corps to become a pilot.
May 2010: Prince Harry finishes his training and is chosen to fly the Apache Attack helicopter.
April 2011: Prince Harry is promoted to Captain and also receives an Apache Badge from the Officer commanding his squad.
October 2011: Prince Harry visits California in the USA. UU To complete the final stages of the Apache Conversion to Role course.
February 2012: Prince Harry qualifies as a co-pilot gunner and is assigned to the 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment within the 16th Air Assault Brigade.
September 2012: Prince Harry deploys in Helmand, Afghanistan for the second time in his military service.
He has the task of conducting an operational tour as an Apache pilot.
January 2013: Prince Harry completes his four-month tour in Afghanistan.
Early 2014: Prince Harry takes the position of Staff Officer in London to work on his plan to bring the Invictus Games to Britain.
March 2015: Kensington Palace announces that Prince Harry will leave the armed forces of the United Kingdom.
May 2017: it is announced that Prince Harry will replace Prince Philip as the ceremonial head of the Royal Marines.
September 2018: Prince Harry visits the Royal Marines Command Training Center while performing his first role as Captain General Royal Marines.
Instead, Colonel Connor watched closely as the prince grappled with life on the front line of the Taliban's relentless assaults.
The two even worked together in the rudimentary gym, and had to hurry to put on armor when a missile alarm was fired.
"We both put our body armor on our sports clothes and we looked at each other and laughed at the situation we were in," Colonel Connor said.
The situation was not really a matter of laughter, however fresh the Prince was under fire.
Prince Harry was deployed as a Forward Air Controller, or in the US Army. UU., A JTAC, Joint Terminal Attack Controller, responsible for summoning air and artillery attacks against the Taliban under his call sign, Widow Six Seven.
FOB Delhi was under small arms, missiles and rocket propelled grenades constantly.
It was built in a previously bombed and shelled complex, brutally hot in summer and very cold in winter, when both Colonel Connor and Prince Harry served there.
"We were under constant operations, there was very little sleep," he said.
The rations were poor, and the Ghurkas went out to look for chickens and sheep, and they did curry.
"The British had these rations, they seemed like just beans and franks, they would negotiate with the Americans.
"When we ate, we ate in the officers' mess, and there were very few of us," Colonel Connor said.
There was no air conditioning, no heating, and few possibilities to sleep without interruptions, while there was no running water or impromptu showers with water bags.
"They could wake up with the things that are happening, the nighttime operations and a constant flow of people going to the advanced positions," Colonel Conner said.
"There were two or three mortar pits shooting at the Taliban, everybody smells, you're constantly in your dirty uniform, it was a difficult life, when I was shot and shot."
Colonel Connor was under fire for a week, when the Prince was calling for air strikes on Allied air power.
But it was only the first time they served together, in early February they met again, in the course of a massive push to reach the strategically vital Kajaki Dam, through areas under Taliban control.
The troops were to take a 220-tonne turbine in a two-and-a-half-mile long convoy of vehicles across the desert to be able to install it at the dam, to ensure the energy supply for the troubled country.
The effort – Operation claw of the eagle – implied a great advance through the territory of Taliban control, with troops going house to house to expel the combatants,
The Prince was commanding a squadron of light tanks, and invoking air and artillery attacks from the turret of his Scimitar.
Colonel Connor and other US troops were advising the nearly 1,000 men of the Afghan forces involved in the operation.
Colonel Connor was with Prince Harry under fire for a week, when the Prince was summoning air strikes of Allied air power. In the photo: Colonel Connor with his wife Susan in his Ranger Graduation in 1991
Colonel Connor (pictured in "storm duty" in 2016) and other US troops were advising the nearly 1,000 men of the Afghan forces involved in the operation. The fight was intense, and Prince Harry was in the middle. "We were able to hear Prince Harry on the radio," said Colonel Connor.
Colonel Connor (pictured) said: Clearly [Prince Harry] He was willing to die. He could have been in a more secure position. I was impressed that you chose to take the hard way & # 39;
The fight was intense, and Prince Harry was in the middle.
"We could hear Prince Harry on the radio," Colonel Connor said.
An artillery attack he ordered fell so close to a sleeping Colonel Connor that the pebbles fell on him and his men.
"I had sent a round of illumination," said Colonel Connor. & # 39; Our boys were resting and some pebbles fell. It was not his fault. They were saying, "My God, that Prince Harry!"
"It really was a sustained struggle in that operation, it was 24 hours a day."
Prince Harry was there through that.
& # 39; He was in the middle of things. He was in the middle of the fight. He was the real deal, "Colonel Conner said.
"He stepped aside, lowered his range, was shot, risked his life and led by example."
The Prince's deployment ended suddenly and dramatically when his coverage was blown up and news of his presence in the war zone shone around the world.
The laconic reaction of Colonel Connor was to tell his men, who had kept the secret of royalty in the battle zone: "You can tell your wives."
In the photo: Prince Harry sits in his position in a Spartan armored vehicle on February 18, 2008. Colonel Connor said he had seen the cost of operations in Helmand province firsthand, so he knew why The Prince was voluntary.
There was never any special treatment or additional protection for the VIP officer, who was known as Coronet, the equivalent of second lieutenant, Wales, and for officers who were below the rank of lieutenant colonel just like Harry.
The regio, 24 years old at the time, looks through the sights of his SA-80 assault rifle while patrolling the deserted city of Garmisir
In interviews delivered to a British reporter embedded with him at FOB Delhi, the Prince spoke of his delight in "disrupting". along with his comrades in the fight against Terry Taliban & # 39;
On New Year's Day 2008, he fired his first shots in combat, in a British position at the sight of the enemy trenches.
When about 20 Taliban were seen approaching and apparently preparing to attack, he claimed a post on a .50 machine gun and opened fire.
"It's just nobody's land … they raise their heads and that's it," he said.
He also participated in street patrols in Garmsir, and was photographed passing a boy riding a donkey in a city plagued by Taliban bunkers and snipers.
& # 39; Just walking, some of the locals or the ANP [Afghan National Police], they have no idea who I am, they will not know, "he said later.
The presence of the prince, who was then the third in the line of the British throne; now it's the sixth, it had been a closed secret that had taken months of planning.
He trained as a cavalry officer and had almost given up when the army decided it was too risky to deploy him in Iraq.
Instead, he was eventually sent to Afghanistan and was praised by senior officials for their performance.
Colonel Connor revealed that Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, then commander of the British forces in Afghanistan, now the head of the British General Staff, the head of the British army, had come to see the prince.
Prince Harry talks to a Gurkha soldier at the observation post on JTAC Hill, near FOB Delhi (advanced operational base), on January 2, 2008, in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.
Prince Harry holds his SA-80 as he prepares to patrol through the deserted city of Garmisir. In interviews with a British reporter embedded with him at FOB Delhi, the Prince spoke of his delight in "mucking". along with his comrades in the fight against Terry Taliban & # 39;
Harry visiting the Royal Marines Command Training Center on September 13 in Lympstone, United Kingdom. The Duke arrived by helicopter for his first visit in his role as Captain General Royal Marines
But the Prince was not so interested in attention.
"I could see some of the officers, not the brigadier general, trying to get his attention, and he was not happy," Colonel Connor said.
The American official told DailyMailTV that the Prince knew his definition of a hero.
He volunteered at Garmsir, which at that time was the most dangerous place a British soldier could be.
You could have stayed in Kabul, or in some large base of operations in Bastion [the main British base, now run by U.S. Marines]"Colonel Connor said.
"Garmsir took the cake for the most violent action against the Taliban and that's where he went.
The American official told DailyMailTV that the Prince knew his definition of hero
– Clearly, I was willing to die. He could have been in a more secure position. I was impressed that he chose to take the difficult road.
"I have seen people who have taken advantage of being VIP and receiving different types of treatment.
& # 39; Someone who is so high up in the royal family, but is so humble in the way he projects himself. & # 39;
"It was not Prince Harry, it was just Harry."
Colonel Connor had seen the cost of operations in the province of Helmand at first hand, so he knew what the Prince was volunteering for.
British soldiers had concerns about the equipment, including the use of lightly armored Land Rovers that could not withstand improvised explosive devices, and the Taliban insurgency in the province was one of the most active in the country.
"The British during that time were losing a substantial amount of people, I remember a long series of ceremonies for the British dead," he said.
– There was a decent chance you would not come back. It must have happened mentally, yes, I could die, and he went ahead and took this risk for his nation.
And he said that although Harry was a high-ranking member of the royal family, he respected him as an officer.
"He seemed respected, not in a forced way because he was a prince, but because he was a good officer," he said.
& # 39; It was respected. That is something that is earned, it is not given. He had earned that respect among his men.