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After 23 years of service in the Parachute Regiment, Craig Allen returned to civilian life in 2001 and began a career as a freelance photographer. Once in never out, however, and he continued to serve with 4 Para, the Reserve Battalion. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11 he returned to the regular regiment as a media escort and photographer for the campaign in Iraq with the job of escorting the embedded BBC crew and print journalist. The role gave him the freedom to move around the battlefield and cover the Paras on operations.