Hero soldier, 18, youngest since WWII to receive Military Cross after daring rescue
A heroic 18-year-old soldier who risked his life to save his commanding officer on the battlefield has become the youngest since WWII to be awarded the Military Cross.
Private Alex Kennedy put himself in the line of fire to save the life of his bullet-ridden platoon commander.
The Mercian Regiment rifleman had only been in the army eight months when his unit came under attack in Helmand Province on June 8 last year.
The soldier and his colleagues had been sent in to clear an area of Garmsir.
Pvt Kennedy was at the front when nine Taliban positions opened fire, causing all the soldiers to hit the floor, while he ran forward to find cover by a river.
During a break in the fire, he shouted to see if anyone had been hit and his platoon commander, who had been shot three times below his hip, raised his hand.
As shooting resumed Pvt Kennedy then risked his life to return to the seriously injured man.
Pvt Kennedy had a lucky escape when a bullet hit the barrel of his gun and ricocheted up past his head. The force of the strike flipped him over onto his back, but he was unharmed.
After giving emergency first aid he removed the injured man's equipment so he was easier to drag to safety.
He also took his commander's radio and directed his platoon's fire towards the Taliban fighters.
Then, with the help of Lieutenant Corporal Chauntry, the Commander was carried to safety while, thanks to Pvt Kennedy's directions, everyone else in the platoon got out alive.
Pvt Kennedy, now 19, is back in his home town Bromsgrove after completing his tour of duty.
He said: 'I was away in South America when I received the news from my boss [about the medal] and just could not believe it.
'I was absolutely speechless. I told my mum as soon as I knew and when I got back, all the family said they were so proud.
'I've also received messages on Facebook from my old mates.
'I don't feel a hero though - that title should really go to those who go out to Afghanistan and don't make it back.'
The Military of Defence citation stated his action's were all the more impressive considering his length of service.
'Kennedy acted with a level of leadership and situational awareness far above that expected of a private soldier, demonstrating selfless bravery and a cool head under fire.'
Professor Eric Grove, a military historian at Salford University, said Private Kennedy was almost certainly the youngest soldier since WWII to receive the medal.
He said: 'It is probably true that he is the youngest because MCs were only awarded to officers until 1993. You would expect them to be given to people in their 20s before that point.
'It is possible that a young pilot may have been given it in World War Two. That's the only person I can think of that would be of such an age. I can quite believe that this man is the youngest since then.'
Awarded to all ranks of the RN, RM, Army, and RAF in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land
An ornamental cross in silver, with straight arms terminating in broad finals ornamented with Imperial Crowns. At the centre on the cross is the Royal Cypher (King George VI shown here). The reverse of the cross is plain in design, though at certain times the year of the award has been engraved.
A silver bar ornamented by the Crown may be issued to MC holders performing a further act of such gallantry which would have merited award of the MC.
A central stripe of deep purple flanked by equally sized stripes of white.
All ranks of the RN, RM, Army, and RAF in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land.
Instituted in 1914, the Military Cross (MC) was issued for gallantry in presence of the enemy to warrant and junior officers of the Army who were ineligible (on account of their rank) for the Distinguished Service Order. During the First World War, it was also available to equivalent ranks in the Royal Naval Division and Royal Marines and it later became available to equivalent ranks in the RAF for acts of gallantry on land.
The equivalent award for the other ranks for gallantry on land in presence of the enemy was the Military Medal (MM) which had been instituted in 1916 and, similarly to the MC, later became available to RAF other ranks serving on the ground.
Following the 1993 review, the MM was discontinued and the MC became available to all ranks of all services for exemplary gallantry on land in presence of the enemy. It is at a level below the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross and is at the equivalent level to the Distinguished Service Cross (for exemplary gallantry at sea) and the Distinguished Flying Cross (for exemplary gallantry in the air).
Certainly makes you stop and think. 18 years old and only been in the army eight months and fighting on the front line in Afghanistan. Frightening, but very well done to the soldier for his bravery and quick-thinking; his family and friends must be so proud.
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