Special forces soldier suffered horrific burns from fireball inferno

A special forces soldier suffered horrific burns and life changing injuries after getting engulfed in what he described as a "fireball" inferno.

David Pristash, 80, is a retired veteran of the Green Beret Special Forces – the US equivalent of the SAS – passing selection in 1967, during the height of US involvement in the Vietnam War.

In September of that year, he was deployed to the East Asian country where he and a small group of other special forces troops would be leading and training a Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) that he described as "basically para-military people, Vietnamese, Montagnards, Cambodians."

David's camp was under heavy pressure by enemy forces from the moment he arrived and would often endure intense barrages.

Speaking to Cleveland.com on YouTube, the 80-year-old said: "We started getting mortared and shelled. I was in the position coming under direct fire.

"I really don't know – the only thing I can think of is some shrapnel or possibly some sparks got into the ammo bunker and something set those off.

"It was just like a huge fireball, with the blast coming through the position and pretty much burnt everything off me and I assumed the other guys.

"I could feel the blast hitting me and when it stopped, I was on fire, so I jumped out of the pit, got some dirt and put the fire out."

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The father-of-four was transferred to hospital for treatment where he claims the doctors only gave him a 10% chance of survival.

He added that he wasn't given any painkillers, as medics feared he would become addicted to them.

He explained: "You basically just have to grin and bear it.

"The treatment was, the first thing they have to do is debride all the dead tissue, so they throw you in this big bathtub called the hover tank and they proceed with a scalpel to cut it all off. With no painkillers.

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"I was determined that I would never scream, because that's all you heard in the morning when you went in there, was guys screaming due to what they were going through. I never did."

David suffered life changing injuries as a result of the explosion, with the debride leaving permanent scars on his body.

He had suffered third-degree burns to 23% of his body, mostly his legs, and second-degree burns to 44% of his body, with the skin grafts on his legs forcing him to learn how to walk all over again.

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The grandfather-of-seven continued: "I can't straighten either arm, number one. Number two, I did breathe in some fire, so my lungs are damaged. Most of the bad burns are on my legs."

Thankfully for him however, he didn't suffer any mental health issues as a result and went on to work in business, setting up his own company, as well as becoming an author too.

He said: "As a result I have been driven to accomplish something ever since."

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