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Gallantry and courage in Iraq and Afghanistan

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Major Dom Biddick engaging with local Afghans in July 2007
Image: Cpl Harlen, Ministry of Defence

On 7 March, in the latest Operational Honours and Awards, Major Biddick received a Military Cross. His story is here.

Behind the name of every person who receives a military honour is a story. Martin K. Shimp of Columbus, Ohio, alerted us to one we had missed. The story featured Fusilier Damien Mark Hields of The Royal Welsh and a British woman of conspicuous courage.

Hields is with British forces, NATO, in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban, whose torture chambers, support for terrorists, oppression of women, and violent efforts to destroy the democratically elected government of Afghanistan are well-documented.

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A British soldier returns fire in Helmand Province, August 2007
Image: Cpl Jon Bevan RLC, MOD

Posted with the 1st Battalion, the Royal Welsh to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, Fusilier Mark Hields had been 100 miles north in Uruzgan province, helping Dutch troops disrupt the movement of Taliban fighters and drugs smugglers. On 3 June he was on his way back to Kandahar, driving south in a valley, when the Taliban attacked in force. Exposed to fierce enemy fire, Hields held off an attack by 150 Taliban. The action, which left his vehicle looking like a tea strainer, is described in the Times.

Hields successfully repulsed their attack until he was wounded.

Hields was dragged out of the Taliban fire and back about 20 yards where Lance-Corporal Carley Williams, the female medic attached to the troops, had dashed through enemy fire to set up a first aid position.

'The lads were screaming at me to get into cover,' said Williams, 23, from Llanelli. 'They saw one round actually pass between my legs.' She was awarded the Joint Commanders’ Commendation for her bravery.

Hields said: 'It turned out the bullet had smashed a rib and gone out of me again without touching any internal organs which was very lucky. It was just a flesh wound really.'

The many positive American comments on the Times story included - "There's just something exceptional in the British spirit that comes out when things get truly bad, and Fusilier Hields is a credit to that."

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Lance Bombardier Michael Frew, Royal Regiment of Artillery, received the Military Cross (MC).

Image: Cpl Dan Harmer RLC, MOD

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Captain Ruth Earl, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, received the MBE.
Image: Cpl Dan Harmer RLC, MOD

Their stories are here.

A total of 181 members of the Armed Forces and three MOD civilians received honours and awards in the Operational Honours List for gallantry, bravery and valuable service.

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