MIL Double VC for Afghan heroes reveals ferocity of war against Taliban

Discussion in 'On Topic' started by Aspinal, Sep 2, 2007.

  1. Aspinal

    Aspinal Guest

    Double VC for Afghan heroes reveals ferocity of war against Taliban

    First officer to receive citation since Falklands

    by MARK NICOL -
    2nd September 2007

    Two British soldiers from the same battalion have been nominated for the Victoria Cross in recognition of their incredible bravery in the face of the enemy.

    The citations for Britain's highest gallantry award came after the men were involved in fierce fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    The first is Captain David Hicks – who would become the first officer to win the VC since Falklands hero Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert 'H' Jones.

    The second is believed to be Lance-Corporal Oliver 'Teddy' Ruecker, 20.
    Last month Capt Hicks, 26, refused morphine when mortally wounded in order to lead a counter-attack against a Taliban rocket assault.


    Heroes nominated for the Army's top gallantry award: L/Cpl Oliver Ruecker and Capt David Hicks

    In May L/Cpl Ruecker fought off Taliban riflemen to rescue a badly wounded comrade from a burning armoured car. One VC has already been awarded for gallantry in Afghanistan.

    The fact that there are two more nominations is an indication of the ferocity of the fighting involving British soldiers.

    The awards would be the first time two soldiers from the same battalion have received the Victoria Cross since the Korean War.

    L/Cpl Ruecker would be only the second living recipient of the VC in 38 years.
    Defence sources have told The Mail on Sunday that two VC citations have been written by the soldiers' commanding officers from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment.

    Colleagues who witnessed the bravery provided written accounts describing what they saw in great detail.

    These 'Post Incident Reports' included the duration of the battles, numbers of friendly and enemy casualties and how many men on both sides were killed.


    Captain David Hicks as a toddler (left) and a sports day champ,
    aged seven

    These top-secret first-hand accounts were studied at great length by both soldiers' superiors and formed the basis of the medal citations. The final decision on the nominations was made by the current commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Carver.

    The process of awarding this most auspicious medal is shrouded in secrecy, and the Ministry of Defence said it would not comment on any speculation surrounding who is to receive one.

    The final decision will be made later this year by a committee of retired and serving generals.

    Former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Guthrie said: "The committee is entirely non-political. It will reach its judgments based entirely on the merit of the citations."

    The soldiers themselves and their families are always the last to know if a medal will be awarded.

    Given the fierceness of the Anglians' campaign, which has cost the lives of nine of the battalion's soldiers and seen about 80 wounded, there is already strong backing inside the MoD for the battalion to receive two VCs.

    Lord Guthrie added: "The ferocity of the fighting is such that I am not in the least bit surprised that a couple of these young soldiers would be recognised.

    "The gallantry in Afghanistan has been of the highest order. The Victoria Cross is awarded on merit. If you do win a VC, my goodness me, you deserve it."

    Alun and Lesley Hicks laid their son to rest near their home in Berkshire last week. They are aware of his hero status but will not bring themselves to consider the award of a VC until it is confirmed.

    Mr Hicks said: "There is a long way to go between a citation and an award. In the meantime the family already recognises David's heroism. He was under fire for several hours.

    "He had returned on leave in July. He said the tour was 'busy'. Busy was a euphemism for 'frequent, regular and intense fighting', far more so than he had seen in Iraq."

    Hicks's fellow officers were fulsome in their praise. Major Phil Messenger said: "Dave Hicks was the most professional and dedicated fellow infantry officer I have had the privilege of working with."

    Col Carver said: "He typified the highest standards of leadership and commanded genuine respect from all those who served with him."

    Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, a former regimental CO in the Army, said: "This is a classic officer's leadership citation, a magnificent piece of selflessness from a member of a superb fighting battalion.

    "I saw the Anglians in Afghanistan quite recently. They are fighting with huge determination and have paid the price in blood. We must not neglect their gallantry; Victoria Crosses fit the bill."

    Of L/Cpl Ruecker's actions, Major Mick Aston of the Anglians said: "Teddy's bravery was witnessed by the whole company. The soldier was completely selfless in his actions. It is difficult to describe how intense that whole action was but the guys who were there will never forget it."

    Ruecker's mother Nicola, 44, said: "He has been told that his name may be put forward for the Victoria Cross. From our perspective and his we would be incredibly proud if he did get it – but it is with mixed emotions given that nine of his friends have been killed out there.

    "It was always his ambition to be in the Army. He signed up with the cadets on his 13th birthday, the youngest age you can. Nobody seems surprised that he is doing well."

    The last time two soldiers from the same battalion received the VC was after the Battle of Imjin River in Korea in April 1951. The men were Lieutenant-Colonel James Carne and Lieutenant Philip Curtis of the 1st Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment.

    Last year Corporal Bryan Budd of the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment was awarded a posthumous VC for gallantry in Afghanistan. And in 2005 Private Johnson Beharry of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment became the first living recipient of the VC since 1969.
  2. TRN

    TRN Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2003
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    North East
  3. armygrognard

    armygrognard New Member

    Aug 2, 2007
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    That's all I've got. WOW!

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