A soldier from Southend on Sea is to receive a Mention in Despatches for his “selfless actions in the face of the enemy” putting himself in direct enemy fire to save trapped and injured comrades.
Trooper Jamie Ross, aged 22, a Challenger 2 and Warthog tank driver with the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, was driving a Warthog when, on December 21, his patrol came under accurate enemy fire from three positions.
The Warthogs returned fire but the infantry soldiers on foot accompanying the patrol had become pinned down by the attack and had suffered a casualty with neither the firepower or numbers to extract the wounded.
The enemy fire was so heavy it was impossible for a casualty evacuation helicopter to land close to the site.
Jamie’s Warthog section quickly broke away from the fight to reach the casualty themselves. He said: "It is quite daunting going further into enemy fire because naturally you want to get to safety but you have to look out for other people.
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“It was really accurate fire coming in that day. You could hear the thumps of rounds hitting the vehicle. But they aren’t just colleagues who are wounded, they are really good mates. You work with them and you just want to get them to safety, which was my main priority.”
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Tow to safety
As the Warthogs crossed an irrigation ditch to reach the casualty, the banks collapsed, tipping the lead vehicle and trapping its driver.
The remaining Warthog section immediately pushed forward to cover the stricken vehicle, coming under very accurate smalls arms and rocket propelled grenade (RPG) fire from another position.
Showing immense courage, Jamie climbed from the relative safety of his Warthog to hook the stricken vehicle to his own to tow it to safety.
A second RPG was fired by the insurgents, passing between the two vehicles and narrowly missing Jamie. Undeterred, he completed his task, returned to his vehicle and towed the damaged Warthog from the ditch.
Jamie then climbed from his vehicle again to unhitch the recovered Warthog, facing more small arms fire and another RPG that exploded nearby.
“The RPG was the biggest wake-up call of my life. I was only out in the open under fire for about eight or nine minutes but it felt like a lifetime. Honesty it felt like the longest time in my life, but when I look back at it now it was just so quick. It made me work faster though”
Under enemy fire
Despite the assault, Jamie and his section continued towards the casualty they had set out to protect, firing smoke grenades to provide cover for the infantry soldiers on the ground as they formed an armoured shield between the casualty and the enemy firing points.
With this protection, the soldiers were able to treat the casualty and get him into one of the vehicles, with the whole Warthog section then carrying the casualty to a secure location over difficult terrain whilst still under enemy fire themselves.
His citation says that he showed courage and resolve, and that his actions “were critical in returning the ditched Warthog to the fight and allowing the extraction of the infantry casualty.”
The announcement was made with the release of the latest operational honours and awards list, which includes 140 personnel. The awards are for actions roughly during the period October 1 2010, to March 31 2011.
The Mention in Despatches is the oldest form of recognition for gallantry within the UK Armed Forces. Since 1993 the Mention in Despatches has been reserved for gallantry during active operations.