Monday, July 12, 2010

Palace honours for soldier who ran through enemy fire TWICE to save wounded comrades

By the Daily Mail

A British soldier who dashed across enemy fire twice to pull wounded comrades out of danger was today recognised for his bravery.

Lance Corporal Kyle Smith, of the Mercian Regiment, was given the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for saving the lives of his injured colleagues after they were ambushed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Conspicuous Gallantry Cross recipients Sergeant Marc Giles (left) and Lance Corporal Kyle Smith

L/Cpl Smith said he was 'really happy' after he was awarded the medal by the Prince of Wales at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

The 22-year-old was out on patrol in July 2009 when his unit was attacked by insurgents using rocket-propelled grenades and guns.

Almost immediately several soldiers were injured.

L/Cpl Smith said: 'I got my team to start suppressing the compound from where the enemy fire was coming from as I looked to my right I saw two lads, in the open, injured and not able to help themselves.

'I had to make a decision whether I took a team across the open field to get them or whether to go on my own.

'I decided that it was too much of a risk, and we'd get more casualties, if I took more people with me so I went on my own.

'I sprinted towards the first casualty, grabbed him, dragged him back by his body armour into cover and administered first aid.

'I looked up again to asses the situation and then I saw the second casualty in the open further away from where the first one was.

'Again, without hesitation, I did exactly the same thing, ran out, grabbed him and pulled him back into cover.'

L/Cpl Smith ran more than 100 meters to save the fallen soldiers.

He added: 'To find out I was being awarded was unbelievable.

'It is an honour to get the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. I was really happy and glad to be awarded such a medal.

'I will wear it but it won't just be for me. It will be for everyone in 2 Mercian who was there on that day.'

He was one of three British soldiers awarded the prestigious medal today for their bravery in Afghanistan.

The Conspicuous Gallantry Cross is awarded in recognition of acts of extreme bravery during active operations against the enemy.

Another soldier who was a recipient of the award was Sergeant Alan Dennis, from Melbourne in Derbyshire.

He said he was 'over the moon' after the service.

Sgt Dennis, also of the Mercian Regiment, was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade when he was trying to pull a member of the Afghan National Army (ANA) to safety.

His patrol was being attacked by the Taliban when he noticed that two ANA soldiers were caught in enemy fire.

He said: 'I managed to extract my team and led them to safety but two ANA soldiers were still left out in the killing area.

'Me and another went out to rescue them. One was injured so I picked him up and dragged him back to compound.

'I went back for the second one and a rocket-propelled grenade came in. It landed very close to me and broke all of my left arm and my shoulder but I still managed to drag him back under fire.'

Sgt Dennis has cheated death in Afghanistan before. In 2007 his vehicle was blown up by a roadside bomb, killing one of his friends.

The 36-year-old has been to the war zone three times. He is taking a break from the next operational tour to do some recruitment work.

'All being well, if my wife permits it or I don't tell her, I'd like to go back out there again. Just to be out there with the guys is all I want to do.'

The soldiers joined more than 100 other civilians and military personnel for the ceremony.

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