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The Queen presents medals for gallantry

Five military personnel were presented with medals for gallantry in Afghanistan during 2006 by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace today –

Flight Lieutenant Craig Wilson, an RAF Chinook pilot received the Distinguished Flying Cross for 'exceptional courage and outstanding airmanship' while operating in Helmand Province. On the night of 11 June 2006 he was tasked to recover a casualty from a Landing Site. In difficult and dangerous conditions despite having done little night flying in Afghanistan he made a precision approach and landing to extract the casualty. A few hours later on another mission in the same area he was tasked to another high risk area. Despite being low on fuel he made another difficult landing. . .

Lieutenant (now Captain) Tim Illingworth received the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for 'inspiring and raw courage from a relatively young and inexperienced officer' while operating in the Garmsir area of Helmand Province. On 10 September 2006 Captain Illingworth, while operating with the Afghan National Army, was involved in two days of heavy fighting whereby he was called upon to personally lead an attack when the Afghan Army Commander had been killed. His inspirational leadership in trying to recover the body of his fallen comrade. . .

Captain Catherine McWilliam received her Associate Royal Red Cross Medal, for her role in leading a young team on their first operational deployment in austere conditions and an extreme climate. She led, taught and supervised her staff in caring for a wide spectrum of patients including Afghan civilians. . .

Major Mark Hammond, a Royal Marine Chinook pilot serving with the RAF received the Distinguished Flying Cross for 'inspirational command of his crew and his superior flying skills' while operating in Helmand Province. On the night of 6 September 2006 he was tasked to effect a casualty rescue from Sangin. While carrying out the evacuation his aircraft was engaged by rifles and machine gun fire which he managed to avoid by skilful flying. On completion of that task he was then sent to Musa Qala for another casualty evacuation. . .On return to Camp Bastion, without hesitation he climbed into a spare aircraft and returned to Musa Qala successfully landing and extracting the casualty despite further machine gun and RPG attacks. . .

Gallant, indeed. You can read more about these British service personnel here.

Over 70 UK Servicemen and Servicewomen have been honoured for their role in operations in Afghanistan. The Telegraph reports today that they have succeeded in stopping the Taliban. Here is another reason for their success –

In 2006, members of the Household Cavalry were deployed in Helmand Province Afghanistan. Captain Williams was sent to Lashkar Gah to mentor the Afghan National Security Forces. On 10 September 2006 he led a joint team of 200 Afghan forces and 17 British troops to secure Garmsir District Centre. Advancing through open, treacherous desert they faced stiff enemy opposition. The operation lasted two weeks, with Captain Williams setting an example by becoming directly involved in the close-quarter fighting. He rallied the Afghan Forces. . .

Captain Williams and other members of the Household Cavalry were honoured by The Queen on 16 May.

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