updated 08/10/2014 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 08/10/2014 AT 11:30 AM ET
Prince Harry is opening up about the horrors he saw while serving in Afghanistan – and how he’s hoping to honor the war heroes that come home.
The Army captain, 29, who served two tours in 2007 and 2012, has penned a powerful editorial describing the “horrendous” things he witnessed, including children killed “from roadside bombs” and coalition forces lying on the battlefield.
“I had never seen it first-hand,” Harry, recalling his time spent in the war zone, writes in The Sunday Times.
“By ‘it’ I mean the injuries that were being sustained largely due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Loss of life is as tragic and devastating as it gets, but to see young lads – much younger than me – wrapped in plastic and missing limbs, with hundreds of tubes coming out of them, was something I never prepared myself for.”
But amidst the devastation, he also saw survival and the need to offer a future – and hope – to the injured servicemen and women returning to civilian life.
Next month, shortly before his 30th birthday, the paralympic-style Invictus Games that he helped create will see 400 personnel from 14 countries compete in London. It is the culmination of a dream the prince had to emulate the United States’ Warrior Games on a global scale.
The idea came after meeting competitors during a trip to Washington, D.C., in 2012 and his visit to Colorado last year, where he watched the Warrior Games and instantly became “hooked” on creating an international version.
“It was one of the most incredible and inspiring things I had ever seen … some of those competing had been lying in a bed no more than eight months earlier, being told they would never walk again,” he writes.