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Para VC and GC


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Para Budd, one of the Helmand heroes,
3 Bn Parachute Regiment

By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent
Last Updated: 11:25am GMT 14/12/2006

A paratrooper who launched a lone charge on Taliban lines after his platoon was ambushed is expected to be awarded the Victoria Cross today.

Cpl Bryan Budd

The men of 3Bn the Parachute Regiment will be showered with operational honours including the highest award for gallantry that will be given posthumously to Cpl Bryan Budd.

A soldier who rescued injured comrades from a minefield will receive the George Cross, the highest recognition for gallant conduct when not in the face of the enemy.

During some of the most intense fighting experienced by the British Army in the past half century the airborne forces time and again demonstrated exceptional courage in combat that saw more than 500,000 rounds fired and 1,000 Taliban killed over the summer.

The bravery shown by the 3,300 men of the Helmand Task Force, including Royal Engineers, military police, Royal Artillery and infantry will be recognised by a "hatful of medals", military sources said last night.

It will be similar to the last major announcement of operational honours when Pte Johnson Beharry received the VC for his actions in saving colleagues while under fire during the deployment of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment to Amarah, Iraq in 2004.
Lt Col Stuart Tootal is expected to be recognised for his leadership of 3 Para battle group when it was deployed to Helmand in May, initially to provide backbone for Afghan security forces and to help in reconstruction efforts.

But instead of rebuilding the country the soldiers found themselves in bloody battles against Taliban insurgents who launched near suicidal assaults in large numbers.

Daily gunfights were fought as the British force pushed into the lawless northern towns of the province to wrest power from the Taliban and opium warlords.

Sangin town experienced some of the most intense fighting that included the extraordinary act of heroism by Cpl Budd, 29.

On Aug 20 he was part of a 24-man patrol from A Company, 3 Para, which was sent to clear a cornfield to protect Royal Engineers working in the area.

The Paras came under fire with several soldiers suffering gunshot wounds. Cpl Budd charged the enemy position while firing with his SA80 rifle on fully automatic. Soon afterwards the enemy's fire dropped off and the soldier's section was able to break away from the contact.

The night before his death Cpl Budd had talked quietly to a military policeman, L/Cpl Matt Carse, about his wife and the joy of becoming a father again after discovering she was pregnant.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph shortly after he returned from Afghanistan in October, L/Cpl Carse said the next time he saw his friend was to help recover the body.

"A patrol had been ambushed with machineguns and there was a Para missing," he said.

"We formed a quick reaction force and with a Para sniper we went out to find him. We ran out through the gates of the platoon house under fire. We took a lot of fire as we got into a cornfield where the soldier was and then we had to fight our way back to the platoon house with Cpl Budd.

"He was one of the best and bravest soldiers I had met — he had taken on the Taliban virtually on his own." Comrades of Cpl Budd, who was due to be promoted to sergeant, said earlier in the tour he had single-handedly stormed a building using hand grenades and his rifle to kill the enemy.

Cpl Budd, from Ripon, North Yorks, had recently rejoined 3 Para after a successful tour with the Parachute Regiment's elite Pathfinder Platoon, which is used to carry out reconnaissance deep behind enemy lines.

As part of the Pathfinders, he served in many operational theatres including the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, Macedonia, Afghanistan and Iraq during his 10 years' service.

The Ministry of Defence last night requested the media to refrain from naming the soldier in line for the George Cross as his family were unaware of the exact medal until today. But it can be reported that the soldier, without any thought for his own safety, ran to the aid of two comrades injured by exploding mines from an old Soviet minefield.

The paratrooper helped treat their wounds and called for a helicopter which winched them to safety. But he fell victim to another mine and died before he reached hospital. It is likely that he lost out on a VC on a technicality in that his bravery was not " in the face of the enemy" as the medal criteria demands.

A number of other medals will be announced today, including those to honour the bravery of troops in action in Iraq. Several RAF Chinook helicopter pilots, who braved a torrent of gunfire to land supplies and troops in Afghanistan, are also expected to receive medals.

Soldier awarded George Cross for saving two comrades,
UK, 3 Bn Parachute Regiment

By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent

Last Updated: 11:15am GMT 14/12/2006

A soldier who saved the lives of two injured comrades who had strayed into a minefield was awarded the George Cross today.

Cpl Mark Wright died in September
Without any regard to his own safety Cpl Mark Wright went to the aid of fellow paratroopers who had their legs blown off after accidentally walking into an unmarked minefield.

After helping to treat their wounds and calling for a helicopter to winch them to safety, he himself fell victim to a landmine and died before he could be taken to hospital.

The patrol from the 3Bn the Parachute Regiment had been sent to search for an observation position on hills overlooking the town of Kajaki in northern Helmand province in September.

But a mine was triggered which injured several others in the minefield sown by the Soviet following their occupation in the 1980s. The Russians planted several hundred thousand mines with many thrown out of helicopters and never marked on a map. 

Cpl Wright and the other injured were taken by helicopter to a field hospital but the section commander died of his wounds.

Following his death Brig Ed Butler, the commander of British forces in Afghanistan, hailed the soldier's conduct "an act of exceptional bravery". The George Cross is awarded for "acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger."

The medal is primarily a civilian award but can be given to troops for gallant conduct which is not in the face of the enemy.

It ranks with the Victoria Cross as the nation's highest award for gallantry and is awarded "for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger".

Cpl Wright, who lived in Edinburgh with his fiancee Gillian who he was planning to marry this year, had served in the Army for seven years.

He successfully completed three tours of Northern Ireland and in 2003 was sent with 3 Para to Iraq where he served with distinction. As mortar fire support NCO the soldier provided close artillery support for colleagues.

The Paras said his "accurate and timely fire control" saved many lives and was "instrumental in fending off Taliban attacks".

Lt-Col Stuart Tootal, the commanding officer of 3 Para, said: "Cpl Wright died attempting to save the life of a fellow paratrooper who had been injured in a mine incident.

"He did so in complete disregard for his own safety whilst fully aware of the dangers to himself.

"His actions were typical of the type of man Cpl Wright was.

"Cpl Wright possessed exceptionally high moral and physical courage."

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The Bread Guy

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Directing Staff
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More, from the UK MOD page.....

Corporal Bryan Budd awarded the Victoria Cross
Defence News (UK MOD), 14 Dec 06
Article Link

Corporal Bryan Budd, of the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA), has been posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for acts of 'inspirational leadership and the greatest valour'. He is only the second recipient of the award in 24 years.  Corporal Budd's wife accepted the award on his behalf, which he received for two separate acts of exceptional valour while deployed in southern Afghanistan in July and August 2006.  Sadly, it was during the second incident, where Corporal Budd led an assault against Taliban fighters, that he lost his life ....

Official Citation:
"During July and August 2006, A Company, 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment were deployed in the District Centre at Sangin. They were constantly under sustained attack from a combination of Taliban small arms, rocket-propelled grenades, mortar and rocket fire.

"On 27 July, whilst on a routine patrol, Corporal Bryan Budd's section identified and engaged two enemy gunmen on the roof of a building in the centre of Sangin. During the ensuing fierce fire-fight, two of Corporal Budd's section were hit. One was seriously injured and collapsed in the open ground, where he remained exposed to enemy fire, with rounds striking the ground around him. Corporal Budd realised that he needed to regain the initiative and that the enemy needed to be driven back so that the casualty could be evacuated.

"Under fire, he personally led the attack on the building where the enemy fire was heaviest, forcing the remaining fighters to flee across an open field where they were successfully engaged. This courageous and prompt action proved decisive in breaking the enemy and was undertaken at great personal risk. Corporal Budd's decisive leadership and conspicuous gallantry allowed his wounded colleague to be evacuated to safety where he subsequently received life-saving treatment.

"A month later, on 20th August, Corporal Budd was leading his section on the right forward flank of a platoon clearance patrol near Sangin District Centre. Another section was advancing with a Land Rover fitted with a .50 calibre heavy machine gun on the patrol's left flank. Pushing through thick vegetation, Corporal Budd identified a number of enemy fighters 30 metres ahead. Undetected, and in an attempt to surprise and destroy the enemy, Corporal Budd, initiated a flanking manoeuvre. However, the enemy spotted the Land Rover on the left flank and the element of surprise was lost for the whole platoon.

"In order to regain the initiative, Corporal Budd decided to assault the enemy and ordered his men to follow him. As they moved forward the section came under a withering fire that incapacitated three of his men. The continued enemy fire and these losses forced the section to take cover. But, Corporal Budd continued the assault on his own, knowing full well the likely consequences of doing so without the close support of his remaining men. He was wounded but continued to move forward, attacking and killing the enemy as he rushed their position.

"Inspired by Corporal Budd's example, the rest of the platoon reorganised and pushed forward their attack, eliminating more of the enemy and eventually forcing their withdrawal. Corporal Budd subsequently died of his wounds, and when his body was later recovered it was found surrounded by three dead Taliban.

"Corporal Budd's conspicuous gallantry during these two engagements saved the lives of many of his colleagues. He acted in the full knowledge that the rest of his men had either been struck down or had been forced to go to ground. His determination to press home a single-handed assault against a superior enemy force despite his wounds stands out as a premeditated act of inspirational leadership and supreme valour. In recognition of this, Corporal Budd is awarded the Victoria Cross."

Corporal Mark Wright awarded George Cross
Defence News (UK MOD), 14 Dec 06
Article Link

Corporal Mark Wright, of the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA), has been posthumously awarded the George Cross for an act of "the greatest gallantry and complete disregard for his own safety in striving to save others."  Corporal Mark Wright was awarded the George Cross for his bravery on 6 September 2006, in Afghanistan, when he entered a minefield in an extraordinary attempt to save the lives of critically-injured soldiers. Sadly, he lost his life during the incident ....

Official Citation:
"From July 2006, a fire support group of 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, held a high ridge feature in the northern centre of Helmand Province near the Kajaki Dam. On 6 September the leader of a sniper patrol, tasked with engaging a group of Taliban fighters operating on the principal highway, was heading down the steep slope when he initiated a mine and sustained severe injuries.

"Seeing the mine-strike from the top of the ridge, Corporal Mark Wright gathered a number of men and rushed down the slope to assist. Realising that the casualty was likely to die before a full mine clearance could be effected, Corporal Wright unhesitatingly led his men into the minefield.

"Exercising effective and decisive command, he directed medical orderlies to the injured soldier, ordered all unnecessary personnel to safety, and then began organising the casualty evacuation. He called for a helicopter, and ordered a route to be cleared through the minefield to a landing site. Unfortunately the leader of this task, while moving back across the route he believed he had cleared, stepped on another mine and suffered a traumatic amputation.

"Corporal Wright, again at enormous personal risk, immediately moved to the new casualty and began rendering life-saving assistance until one of the medical orderlies could take over.

"Calmly, Corporal Wright ordered all non-essential personnel to stay out of the minefield and continued to move around and control the incident. He sent accurate situation reports to his headquarters and ensured that additional medical items were obtained. Shortly afterwards a helicopter landed nearby, but as Corporal Wright stood up he initiated a third mine, which seriously injured him and one of the orderlies. The remaining medical orderly began treating Corporal Wright, but was himself wounded by another mine blast which caused further injury to both Corporal Wright and others.

"There were now seven casualties still in the minefield, three of whom had lost limbs.

"Despite this horrific situation and the serious injuries he had himself sustained, Corporal Wright continued to command and control the incident. He remained conscious for the majority of the time, continually shouting encouragement to those around him, maintaining morale and calm amongst the many wounded men. Sadly, Corporal Wright died of his wounds on the rescue helicopter.

"His supreme courage and outstanding leadership were an inspiration to his men. For acts of the greatest gallantry and complete disregard for his own safety in striving to save others, Corporal Wright is awarded the George Cross."


The Rifleman

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I would not be surprised if another one or two are announced next spring - The Gurkhas and Royal Fusiliers had a few worthy incidents, but then again the criteria for getting medals seems to be getting tighter and tighter in the UK.