Sharing ideas on Risk, Human Performance, Teams and Leaders

Ben McBean

British Marine

Surviving an IED Blast - Putting life into perspective

Ben McBean can recall in minute detail the moment he stepped on a Taliban landmine in 2008. It was five months into his first tour of duty in Kajaki, southern Afghanistan. He remembers laughing and joking with his mates before the routine desert patrol, then “legging it” as fast as he could over exposed ground, while other members of the unit covered him. It was a boiling-hot day, sweat ran into his eyes and he recalls swiping a fly from his face. Then the sound of a “massive blast”. Later, other patrol members told him he was thrown at least 20ft into the air. After Ben shared a transport plane back to the UK with Prince Harry, there were reports of the prince hailing him as “the real hero”, saying how “humbled” he felt by Ben’s bravery. At the time Ben felt neither heroic nor brave. He woke up in the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, to discover that his arm had been amputated too.

Ben McBean, a British Marine, lost his right leg and left arm stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in 2008. While his experience is harrowing, his story is one of inspiration. He describes his recovery was “not so much difficult, rather as different”. He describes the bad days leading to strength of character. He made a conscious decision that this was “just a setback” and that he needed a little bit of hope. He chose to survive. Ben emphasized that hope leads to determination and courage, and that he was determined to show his ability and not his disability.