I haven't seen today's papers but I hope they pick up this recognition of the work and bravery being carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other parts of the workd where our troops are. Good news all round.
By Lesley-Anne Henry and Alaistair McQueen
Friday, 6 March 2009
Six soldiers from the Royal Irish Regiment have been honoured for their service in Afghanistan.
Three of the troops, Ranger Alan William Owens, Captain Graham David Bradley Rainey and Sergeant Stephen McConnell, were awarded the Military Cross for gallantry shown during a six month stint in the deadly Helmand Province last year.
Ranger Owens was recognised for his âcourageous individual |actions in the face of the enemyâ. He also received high praise from Army bosses who said the young soldier had âengendered a level of empathy with the local population which no amount of fighting could establishâ.
He said: âWhen they told me I had won a medal I was shocked. I was doing the same thing as lots of other people. I have phoned my parents, but not told them I am to get a medal. I've just told them I am to be in the news and not to worry.â
Captain Graham David Bradley Rainey was hailed for his âdistinguished leadership and tactical skillâ whilst in charge of an Operational Mentoring Liaison Team near the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qalâeh.
Sgt McConnell was commanding his regiment's 8 Platoon and attached to the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment when he won his Military Cross in a fearsome battle which saw his men completely surrounded by about fifty Taliban fighters.
He said: âAbout an hour and a half into the patrol we were |attacked on three sides. We retaliated and then we fixed bayonets and got our grenades ready and began to advance on them. I went out across an open field to use my bayonet, but I didn't get the chance because the grenades did the job. I remember seeing the ground all round my feet jumping up as the bullets hit it.â
Also among the 100 servicemen and women to make the Armed Forces Operational Awards List were Royal Irish soldiers Acting Sergeant Alwyn Stevens, Corporal Robert McClurg and Fijian-born Lance Corporal Jon Toge.
The trio made military history after they were awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross â the first time the honour has been bestowed on three members of the same regiment at the same time.
The men received the medal awarded âin recognition of an act or acts of conspicuous gallantry during active operations against the enemyâ for their work mentoring men from the Afghan National Army in Helmand Province.
Corporal McClurg was commanded for his âcalm, selfless leadership style and great "personal courageâ after he repeatedly salvaged deteriorating situations.
Lance Corporal Jone Bruce Toge rescued four injured soldiers and when his commander was incapacitated, led the Operational Mentoring Liaison team and Afghan National Army soldiers to safety after a rocket attack near the Taliban strong-hold of Musa Qalâeh.
Afghan National Army platoon mentor Acting Sergeant Stevens âdisplayed extraordinary courageâ and was also applauded for his efforts in suppressing the enemy.