A nurse has been awarded two medals for service in Iraq - which involved a posting to one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces.
Paul Saines, of Maylands Drive, Uxbridge, was presented with the Iraq Campaign medal and the Iraq Reconstruction medal for an 18 month tour of duty from 2004-2006.
Initially responding to an advertisement for nurses to work with the UN, he was sent to Iraq because of his experience in accident and emergency.
The 35-year-old said: "I was sent for a week's military training and then to my surprise I found I was leaving at the end of the week."
For six months, Mr Saines worked in the British military A&E department in Basra, before being moved to the palace.
He said: "There were some very exciting times, some dangerous times and some very sad times."
In one incident, a local teenager was crushed by a wall that had been built by coalition troops.
"I was in the middle of a hostile crowd. It was quite a scary moment," he said.
And it was a similar tragedy which finally convinced him to come home.
"I had breakfast with two friends who were security guards in the morning - and two hours later I was clearing their remains from an armoured car.
"It was a long time out there."
Now working as a senior A&E nurse at the West Middlesex Hospital in Isleworth, Mr Saines is philosophical.
"I work with a great team of people," he said.
"It's just as challenging but in different ways. It's a rewarding but tragic area to work in."