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Cheryl Cole joins mock gun battle, praises "awe-inspiring" soldiers during Afghanistan visit

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Cheryl Cole - The Girls Aloud star and ex-X Factor judge celebrates her 28th birthday on Thursday.

© WENN

Cheryl Cole spoke of her admiration for the "awe-inspiring" work being carried out by the armed forces in Afghanistan on the first day of her trip to Camp Bastion.

The 'Promise This' star flew out to the country yesterday as part of a trip organised by The Mirror for the Pride of Britain Awards. On board her 12-hour flight, Cole served dinner and drinks to the troops.

The singer spent her first morning in camp taking part in a mock gun battle, during which she had to run for cover from 'enemy' gun fire. The Mirror shows pictures of Cole carrying an SA80 rifle during the training, while another shows her saluting alongside soldiers.

"I went into the room and heard an explosion. It was scary. I was terrified," the 28-year-old said of the experience. "I'm not ashamed to say I screamed and uttered a few expletives.

"I always had admiration for what the guys do out here, but seeing them here at work is awe- inspiring. I'm delighted to be here to recognise all the hard work they do. Every one of them is a hero in my book."

Cheryl Cole
Task Force Helmand chief ­Lt Col Tim Purbrick praised Cole for not being "afraid to get her shoes dirty".

"When everyone heard she was coming, we did not know what to expect as she's a huge star. But whatever ­preconceptions we had went out of the window as soon as we met her," he said. "Her smile is infectious, she was up for doing everything we suggested. She was like one of the lads."

Cole also fired a grenade to cheers and joined the 1st Battalion on a mock patrol, during which she wore full combat kit.

"She was a little taken aback by the noise and general chaos and was a little shaken but she gamely carried on," Lt Col Purbrick said of her involvement. "I'm sure plenty of celebrities probably would have rather just observed but Cheryl was in the thick of it."

Praising the former X Factor judge, one soldier added: "She's a stunner and having her out here has lifted morale. She's probably the biggest star to visit. Fair play to her, it's a dangerous place to come."

> 'X Factor' USA: Cheryl Cole to appear in first hour of first episode, says Simon Cowell
> Cheryl Cole working with Taio Cruz on new album

Watch Cheryl Cole's 'Promise This' video below:

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