An Irish man who was badly wounded while fighting with Ukrainian forces last week, was told by doctors that he is lucky to be alive.
Brian Meagher (35) was a member of the Irish Defence Forces for 15 years and seeing the devastation that was unfolding in Ukraine, he decided to join the Foreign Legion.
Last week, the father of two joined the Ukrainian offensive in Kharkiv and while on the front line, his unit was struck by shrapnel from a mine and then ambushed by Russian forces.
Mr Meagher said their was a number of discarded Russian tanks but one unit remained and it attacked the Foreign Legion fighters.
"As soon as it happened I thought I was fine. My mind didn’t register with my body. So I started to run because I could see smoke coming from the explosion. I later found out then that I was hit twice,” he said.
"Fluid was filling up my lungs. Because I was struggling to breathe, It was like I was slowly drowning. I hadn't realised I had been shot at that time. It just got so bad that I said right, if I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die comfortable. So I just started to take my PP off me."
Speaking to RTÉ’s Primetime programme, Mr Meagher said he has two pieces of shrapnel in his heart and two in the T10 section of his spinal cord.
"It probably took 30 minutes to get back the casualty collection point. It was basically operating tables in like an abandoned house and just filled with medical personnel,” he added.
Mr Meagher said Russian troops were driven out of the town, but almost of third of his unit was taken out in the attack.
"The Ukrainian self propel gunner – he looked dead, and so I take it he was killed. And the guy who was in the back of the pickup was an American Green Beret for 20 years, he's missing. So they are combing the morgues looking for him. I think around 10 people were hit,” he said.
The Ratoath resident joined the Irish Army at 17 years of age and stayed until 2018.
He said watching the devastation that was caused in cities like Bucha motivated him to join the Foreign Legion.
"I was like will I go or not go, you know, they needed people. They needed soldiers. So I just decided to go. I knew no one here. I just bought all the equipment, and I came over," he said.
"What used to get to me was when we were on the frontline and you hear artillery come in, you'd hear boom. And then the next one bigger and bigger. Oh my God that's coming, and all you can do is curl up into a ball and try to get beside sandbags. I felt helpless then because there's nowhere to go.
"I'd like to come back here because the fighters at the front need so much stuff. I would maybe like to come back in the future because I know a lot of people are very afraid to go to the front. I know where stuff is needed."
He added: "I regret that I got hit so quickly in the offensive. I just wanted to do more. I couldn't so that's probably my only regret. I'm very glad I came here.
“I know if Ireland was invaded, I would want Europeans and foreign men to come and help us fight. So that's all, that's all I did."