Friday, February 19, 2010

Prince in tribute to bravery of Yorkshire soldiers

Paul Jeeves, Yorkshire Post

THE Prince of Wales yesterday paid tribute to the bravery of the Armed Forces during a visit to Yorkshire to meet soldiers who are about to embark on a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Prince Charles was on a whistle-stop tour of Army stations in North Yorkshire, including Europe's largest military base at Catterick Garrison, to meet soldiers and their families.

Among the troops he met was Sergeant Luke Cunningham, 29, from Leeds, who spoke of his pride after receiving a bravery award from the Prince.

The soldier came under small arms fire as he went to aid a Gurkha platoon in Helmand, Afghanistan, last March.

The Certificate of Commendation praised Sgt Cunningham's "selfless and gallant" actions under fire and for placing himself in "enormous danger" as he saved three colleagues and gave first aid to an injured comrade.

Sgt Cunningham, who was attached to the Queen's Dragoon Guards at the time of the dramatic rescue, said: "It means everything to me. It's a huge privilege. There were a lot of ups and downs on that tour and I lost a few mates. This is a recognition of all their efforts.

"It's not just me, it's all the other guys. I have my father here today. It means a lot to me, this."

Asked what the Prince said to him, he added: "He said Leeds breeds a lot of hard men and I concurred."

Sgt Cunningham received the certificate in the Officers' Mess of the Royal Dragoon Guards.

Prince Charles, who was dressed in fatigues, met with members of the regiment and their families along with the Mercian Regiment and 9 Army Air Corps ahead of their deployment to Afghanistan next month.

Among them was soldier Shaun Subden, 34, from Sheffield, his wife Paula and their seven-week-old daughter, Bethany-Robyn.

During the visit, Charles, who is Colonel-in-Chief of all three regiments, also attended a pre-deployment party hosted by the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire).

The Prince chatted to soldiers and their families who had gathered in a large hanger located at Marne Barracks, close to the A1 in North Yorkshire.

A number of information stands had been placed in the hall giving families a glimpse into the lives of the soldiers while on deployment for six months.

The Prince also visited 9 Regiment Army Air Corps at Dishforth Airfield, where he presented a number of medals.

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