Shortly before 4pm on Bloody Sunday, 15-year-old Damien Donaghy was shot in the thigh.
He was the first person wounded on the day, and in a flash his dreams of becoming a footballer were wiped out.
When he regained consciousness the following day in hospital, surrounded by other casualties, he would receive the devastating news 13 people had been shot dead by the Army.
Damien grew up in the Creggan estate. His mother died when he was 12 and his grandparents raised him after that.
“I was football mad; at that time there was no chance of making it anywhere, so we went to marches and things like that,” he said.
“I was only 15 at the time but I was at the Stardust nightclub the night before Bloody Sunday.
“I got up late and went to the march... and never came home that day.”
Setting off on a peaceful march, he never anticipated the carnage that would unfold in the Bogside.
He said it was “unbelievable” to see paratroopers because until that day he’d never encountered one on the streets.
“Creggan shops was packed but nobody thought it would end that way. We went down Westland Street and when we got to the Bogside soldiers were gathered,” Damien explained.
“We lifted stones and threw them and walked away. A rubber bullet was fired and it came off the wall next to me. I spun round, and the next thing I knew I was hit and lying on my back. I’d been shot by a live round.
“I didn’t know until later, but John Johnson went to pick me up along with a group of other men. They took me into Mrs Shiels’s house and Father Carlin was there.
“A wee woman from Strabane held my hand. I met her only last year in the Museum of Free Derry — she was able to tell me details about the aftermath that I wasn’t aware of.
“Fr Carlin drove a wee Volkswagen Beetle. He took Mr Johnson over to hospital first and then he came back for me.”
During the Saville Inquiry it emerged that Mr Johnson, who was a little distance behind Damien, was hit twice by the same gunfire. He died five months later, the 14th victim of the massacre.
Damien spent six months in hospital. He was struck on the femur and needed a “big steel pin” through his leg.
It was plastered and he required a walking aid for some time after.
Still in his early teens, it changed his life.
He said: “To hear about all the people dead — I was in total shock.
“I didn’t really know much of what happened. I was lying in hospital and I remember Alana Burke (seriously injured by an Army vehicle) being brought in. I remember John Hume being there. The place was packed with soldiers.”
He was never able to play football in the same way and never regained full movement in his leg.
The day after Bloody Sunday it was announced there would be an inquiry, and the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Widgery, was appointed to lead it.
Many nationalists were sceptical a British tribunal held in predominantly unionist Coleraine would be impartial.
It sat for just three weeks in February and March 1972, with the final report published on April 18.
Damien added: “There was fear when I was lying in the hospital. Then I heard that we’d have to give evidence at the Widgery Tribunal.
“But that was a whitewash from the beginning — they took evidence from nobody.”
Thirty-eight years later the Saville Report would be published, which was widely welcomed in Derry as it declared all victims innocent, while leaving some doubt hanging over Gerald Donaghy.
Damien added: “I was in the Guildhall the day of the Saville Report. My thoughts were that maybe we would get justice and they’d bring the soldiers up that shot people. But that has never happened.
“It’s the same everywhere, the ordinary people get nothing. It’s the same thing that happened to the Hillsborough families. Wee ‘Ducksy’ Doherty was the only man to serve time.”
Martin ‘Ducksy’ Doherty was given a three-month jail sentence for being in contempt of the Saville Inquiry after he refused to give evidence. He remains the only person to have been jailed.
Damien said it was an honour for him to read out the names of the dead and wounded every year at a memorial service “so they are not forgotten... I feel the pain of the families”.
While doubtful those responsible will ever spend a day behind bars, he remains fully supportive of the families’ campaign for justice.
He said: “I’m 65 now — 50 years is a long time.
“I’m sad for the people that are dead, their mothers.
“I am alive, I can talk. Those people have gone through hell every day of their lives.
“Michael Kelly’s mother was down at the cemetery with a blanket for her son. It’s awful.
“They got away with murder and attempted murder — simple as that.”