A British former soldier who lost an eye after being shot by a sniper in Iraq is asking for the public’s help to find his missing glass eye collection, which cost nearly $3500.
Simon Brown, 39, was a corporal in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers when he sustained facial injuries during a rescue mission in Basra, Iraq in 2006, according to the Blind Veterans UK website.
“I was out there as a recovery commander,” Brown said in a video interview.
His job was to deal with vehicles damaged or destroyed in the fighting and assist their crews. “On the day of his injury, Brown had successfully rescued six of his colleagues whose vehicle had broken down,” the website entry reads.
But on the way back from the mission, Brown was hit by enemy fire.
“As I dropped my head back in that’s when I felt the impact on the side of my cheek–just like being hit by an iron bar, really,” he said in an interview.
The bullet shattered both his cheekbones, destroying his left eye and seriously damaging the right eye. He was airlifted to a hospital in Basra and survived thanks to an emergency tracheotomy. Back in the UK he underwent extensive reconstructive surgery and battled back to recovery.
Brown now has only has 20 percent vision in his right eye and wears a prosthetic in his left orbit–a glass eye–though it’s not really made of glass, but a medical grade plastic.
And now, he is appealing to members of the public for help in finding his precious assortment of 16 prosthetics, collected over the course of 10 years.
The collection was in a brown plastic container, lost around Christmas in either London, the city of Leeds, or on a train in between the two, the Daily Mail reported.
“I don’t remember when it went missing. Last time I saw the box was on December 17.
“I have my Rudolph eye in for the Christmas period and went to change it on Boxing Day, which is when I first noticed it had gone missing. I searched everywhere at home for it.
“I retraced my steps and phoned the places I have been. Someone would remember if it had been handed in as it’s not everyday someone finds a box of glass eyes,” Brown told the Daily Mail.
British national broadcaster BBC has got involved in the man’s plight, putting together a video feature and sharing it on social media.
— Blind Veterans UK (@BlindVeterans) January 16, 2018
“We need your help! @BlindVeterans are trying to help @oneeyedsi66 find his glass eyes, which could have been left in London, Leeds or on a @VirginTrains,” the BBC wrote.
Blind Veterans UK posted about the missing collection on Twitter to help find the collection.
The tweet read “Blind veteran Simon Brown has lost his collection of glass eyes. Kept in a brown @tupperware container, they were last seen over the Christmas party session in London or Leeds or travelling on @VirginTrains. Have you seen them?”
The glass eyes feature a range of designs elements–the union jack, a charity logo, even a bullseye.
Brown says each eye is tailor-made and costs around $220 and three months to make.
“I’ve got a couple of new ones on order, but it takes three months for them to be done as they’re all custom made.
‘They are no use to anyone else. I have been creating this collection for a decade and it would be really disappointing to know I have lost them all. I would have to have them all made again,” Brown told the Daily Mail.
The former soldier credits Blind Veterans UK with helping him get his life on track after his return from his tour of duty.
“Iraq changed me just as much mentally as it did physically, and ten years on the scars are still there.
“It’s the professional support that makes a big difference,” Brown said, “Everybody can be kind and friendly, but kind and friendly don’t do the detailed bits you need to move forward.”
“Blind Veterans UK helped me through the very worst times.”