Published Thursday, 24 May 2012
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During a previous tour in Afghanistan, 14 soldiers from 2 Rifles were killed and a quarter of the battalion injured.
On their latest operation, Lance Corporal Peter Eustace was killed in November while on patrol in north Helmand, while Rifleman Justin Davis lost both his legs and Rifleman Fred Owusu's leg was shattered in separate incidents.
Captain Mark Cripps said the huge casualties suffered during the previous tour had a significant impact on the men.
"It's not easy and some of the young guys were afraid but we go out, not as individuals but as a formed unit and it really is the case that you're there with your friends and that pushes you in the right direction," he explained.
Around 125 families live in the Ballykinler barracks and Sue Wright, whose husband is a Commanding Officer, said it is very hard to say goodbye.
"When they had off to Afghanistan and you have that additional worry, it makes it particularly poignant and it's very hard to be the ones left to worry and cross off the days.
"It's not an easy time," she added.
Despite the cheers and medals on their return, Rifleman John Mead agreed it was difficult to leave his family.
"It's a sad day for both of us, knowing I might not come back, but in your mind you've got to install into them that you are coming back, that you know your job and you can do it 100%."
Quarter Master's wife Vicki Mabb said her husband tries to phone home once a week, but if the phone call does not come she can be left thinking the worst.
"If there is a casualty the first thing that happens is all the communication is cut. So when you're waiting for that phone call and if it doesn't come your first thought is has there been an incident, which is difficult.
"It's very reassuring when you get an email and he's just been busy or couldn't call that week," she told UTV.
For Captain Cripps, he believes the soldiers motivate each other to get through each six month tour, despite the risks.
"You get re-involved in it again. You're very close to your friends around you and you've got to move on.
"Afghanistan has moved on considerably since the last time we were out," he added, "the casualties that have been suffered in general have dropped significantly."