…are, fortunately, for the most part the ones we have. The Guardian reports that a British private from Grenada has been awarded the Victoria Cross for heroism in Iraq–the first such award since the Falkland Islands war, and the first VC given to a living soldier since 1969. The citation describes Private Johnson Beharry’s bravery in two separate engagements last summer, when he was driving a Warrior armored vechicle in southern Iraq:
The Warrior was hit again by RPGs. It caught fire and filled with thick, noxious smoke.
Pte Beharry, continues the citation, “assessed that his best course of action to save the lives of his crew was to push through, out of the ambush. He drove his Warrior directly through the barricade, not knowing if there were mines or improvised explosive devices placed there to destroy his vehicle. By doing this he was able to lead the remaining five Warriors behind him towards safety.”
Another RPG hit the Warrior. “The flames and force of the blast passed directly over him, down the driver’s tunnel, further wounding the semi-conscious gunner in the turret.”
Pte Beharry was “forced to drive the vehicle along the rest of the ambushed route, some 1,500 metres, with his hatch opened up and his head exposed to enemy fire, all the time with no communications with any other vehicle.”
A 7.62mm bullet penetrated his helmet and remained lodged on its inner surface.
Pte Beharry then climbed on to the turret of the burning vehicle and, “seemingly oblivious to the incoming enemy small arms fire, manhandled his wounded platoon commander out of the turret, off the vehicle and to the safety of a nearby Warrior”.
Remounting his burning vehicle for the third time…
Well, you get the picture. In the second engagement, Beharry’s convoy was ambushed again, and an RPG exploded six inches from his head. One thing I like about the Guardian’s account is that, like most very brave men, Beharry has a sense of humor:
He was asked what was going through his mind at the time. “An RPG”, Pte Beharry promptly replied.
Via Natalie Solent.