03/17/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT
Bomber pilots knew him as Widow Six Seven, never suspecting the voice on the radio belonged to the soldier formerly known as Prince. For 10 weeks, Harry, 23, third in line to Britain's throne, fought in Afghanistan's war-torn Helmand Province, where he commanded a Spartan tank and fired a .50 caliber machine gun at Taliban-led insurgents. Back home March 1, he shrugged off praise: "There were two injured guys on the plane with us. One had lost two limbs ... those are the heroes."
Media outlets (including PEOPLE) had embargoed news of his deployment, until the Drudge Report leaked the story Feb. 28. Whisked back to England, Harry soon reunited with his Zimbabwe-bred girlfriend Chelsy Davy, 22. His hope: to get back on the front lines and fight again. "I would like to still be out there with the guys," he says. "This is about as normal as I'm ever going to get."