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Military courage recognised in Operational Honours List

The 14 Service personnel attending represented the 139 recipients, Regular and Reservist, honoured in the latest Operational Awards list, recognising the bravery and meritorious service of all three services across the globe.

Amongst them were Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey, 27, of the Parachute Regiment, who has been awarded the Victoria Cross, the premier award for gallantry in the presence of the enemy.

On the 22 August 2013, Lance Corporal Leakey, deployed on a combined UK/US assault led by the United States Marine Corp into a Taliban stronghold to disrupt a key insurgent group.

On leaving their helicopters, the force came under machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire, pinning down the command group on the exposed forward slope of a hill. For an hour the team attempted to extract from the killing zone; a Marine Corp Captain was shot and wounded and their communications were put out of action.

Lance Corporal Leakey said:

When you hear there’s a man down, the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Clearly then your plans change.

Realising the seriousness of the situation - and with complete disregard for his own safety he dashed across a large area of barren hillside being raked with machine gun fire. As he crested the hill, the full severity of the situation became apparent: approximately twenty enemy had surrounded two friendly machine gun teams and a mortar section, rendering their critical fire support ineffective.

Under fire yet undeterred by the very clear and present danger, Lance Corporal Leakey ran across the exposed slope of the hill three times to initiate casualty evacuation, re-site machine guns and return fire. His actions proved the turning point, inspiring his comrades to fight back with renewed ferocity. Displaying gritty leadership well above that expected of his rank, Lance Corporal Leakey’s actions singlehandedly regained the initiative and prevented considerable loss of life.

Lance Corporal Leakey said:

It’s massively humbling to put me alongside other people who have received this award. I’m conscious that there were other men on the ground that day who were doing their job just like everyone does. I see this as a massive honour for the Parachute Regiment as a whole. It is overwhelming. And I think it probably always will be.

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Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-defence

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