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Hero soldier left birthday party to help Vegas victims

Photo: PA

One of the British soldiers commended for bravery during the Las Vegas massacre had broken off birthday celebrations to help the injured, it has emerged.

Trooper Stuart Finlay of 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards turned 25 on Friday and was celebrating with fellow soldiers over the weekend, his father revealed.

But the much-anticipated Vegas getaway, taken while on leave from military training, was sickeningly derailed when a concert came under heavy gunfire on Sunday.

The father-of-one from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, left an evening meal near the Nevada strip to find a bloodbath - and darted towards danger with two other troops.

The trio, which also included 24-year-old Trooper Ross Woodward, remain under Army orders not to discuss the ordeal publicly, but Trooper Finlay's father Kev shared his son's account.

The 48-year-old utility worker told the Press Association:

He walked out of a place into everything unfolding in front of him.

There were bodies around them as he was putting pressure on someone that had been shot in the back, then they helped others.

He said they could hear (the gunfire) from where they were.

– Kev Finlay

With many emergency services pinned down by a relentless hail of bullets, the off-duty troops helped marshal people to safety until paramedics and police arrived.

There wasn't enough ambulances to casualties so they stayed with anyone they could to help and comfort them.

None of them hesitated ... they just ran into it and did what they could.

I think the training came instinctively to the lads and (being) the type of people they are in themselves, they put no thoughts to their own safety to help others.

– Kev Finlay

The troops' actions that night won acclaim from the Prime Minister, who thanked them for their efforts earlier this week.

They had been training in California with the regiment, known as the Welsh Cavalry, in the weeks leading up to the attack.

Trooper Finlay, who rose into the army after joining the TA, left behind his infant daughter Amelie, just six months old, to take up the opportunity overseas.

He had been relishing the trip to Las Vegas, according to his father, but had been more reluctant to get into the birthday spirit.

He said his mates forced him to celebrate. It's a place he's wanted to visit while he's over there and he's your typical soldier.

– Kev Finlay

The group are now expected to return to camp in California before flying back to the UK.

Referring to the emotional toll Sunday's mass shooting might have taken on his son, Mr Finlay said:

He said he's OK, but I'm not to sure it's kicked in yet what he saw or did.

They're all good mates and I think they've had loads of support from the base too.

– Kev Finlay

Initially the Chester-based father was filled with panic about his son's safety when he saw the worst shooting in modern US history unfold on television.

I was panicking inside fearing the worst and when I couldn't get in touch with him my head was all over the place, once I found out what he did I can't describe the feeling of pride and so much relief.

It's mad to think my son was one of them there helping and trying to save lives, it's a mad feeling I well up inside when I talk about it and hear things.

I know it's his job and he loves what he does but I do have such a relief when he's home.

– Kev Finlay