A FORMER squaddie spent seven months in a war zone putting his life on the line searching for bombs - but has found buying a pint in a town pub a tougher challenge.
Brave Paul Wallace served in Afghanistan before being medically discharged from service with mental health issues having witnessed first hand some of the atrocities.
Proud Paul, 23, joined hundreds of others at Hartlepool’s War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday to pay tribute to the fallen.
But his day turned sour when staff at a popular boozer turned him away for looking too young.
Bosses who run the King John’s Tavern said they run a Challenge 21 policy and the worker was obliged to refuse to serve Paul as he was believed to be under 21 and did not have identification.
Paul, who joined the Royal Engineers after leaving English Martyrs School & Sixth Form College in 2008, went to the service wearing the medals which were given to him in recognition of his tour of Afghanistan in 2011.
But any hopes of a pint in memory of his mates turned flat when he went for a drink at nearby King John’s Tavern straight after the service. Paul, who lives in the King Oswy area of town, was left “embarrassed” when he was refused a drink for not having any identification to prove his age.
Paul said: “I had been to the Remembrance service because it is important to me.
“I lost some good mates while I was in Afghanistan, and this is my way of paying my respects to them.
“I spent seven months there looking for bombs, and I ended up being treated for mental illness at a hospital in Germany.
“I put my suit on and my medals on for Sunday as it is an important day.
“The last thing I expected was to be left embarrassed in a pub full of people.” Paul went into the pub straight after the service had finished, and had no problems buying two bottles of cider.
But he claims he was asked for ID after going to the bar for a third time, and ended up walking out of the pub.
He added: “I couldn’t understand it, I was served without any problem the first time I went to the bar. But then one of them asked me for ID, and I didn’t have any with me.
“I don’t usually get asked for ID when I’m out, so I was surprised.
“When I said I didn’t have any, it was like they were mocking me and getting a bit cocky.
“I was totally embarrassed, and I just walked out. I didn’t know what else to do.” Paul, who also toured Jordan, Israel and Cyprus, was discharged from the Royal Engineers in November last year for medical reasons and now works as a groundworker in the building trade.
Eddie Gershon, spokesman for Wetherspoon’s - the national chain which runs the King John’s Tavern - said: “The customer was served by one staff member and a different staff member served him when he went up to the bar again.
“This is when he was asked for ID as it was this staff member’s genuine belief that he could be under 21 years of age.
“We operate a Challenge 21 policy to target underage drinking and the staff were within their rights to ask for ID.
“If a customer can’t produce the required proof of age the staff member is obliged to refuse service.
“This action will be taken with any customer given these circumstances.
“The policy was explained to the gentleman, there was no exchange of words and he certainly wasn’t mocked.”