A Barnsley soldier was attacked in the street, knocked unconscious and then repeatedly stamped and kicked in the face and head - just hours after getting home.
The savage, brutal and unprovoked attack on the 28-year-old in a terraced street in the town centre has left witnesses shaken and horrified.
One has told the victim's mother: "They were like a pack of dogs, all gathered around his unconscious body to kick and stamp on him."
The corporal, who has served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, was left with concussion, a broken nose, black eyes and cuts and bruises all over his face, head and neck with some shoulder and pelvic injuries.
Because he was jumped on from behind, he has no idea how many people assaulted him at around midnight on Saturday - or why.
Ironically, earlier that day, members of the public had applauded soldiers who paraded outside the town hall as part of Armed Forces Day celebrations.
The soldier, who has served 10 years in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, had got back to Barnsley that day after a 30-hour journey home from the Falkland islands.
After spending time with his family he met friends in town for a drink and got a taxi home at around midnight. He was attacked outside the family home.
Terrified neighbours who saw him unconscious and being punched and kicked in the middle of the road called 999 - one said: "I was frightened for his life".
His distraught mum, who does not want to be named, said: "How can it be that in the morning Barnsley is honouring our forces and telling them we are proud of what they do and then hours later a soldier is treated in this way?"
• A man was detained by police on suspicion of assault and later released. The mother of the soldier has asked it be made clear the attackers were white British men.