A soldier who single-handedly defended a lightly manned checkpoint against a ferocious insurgent attack and a Royal Marine who fearlessly led his men out of a Taliban Ambush - despite being shot twice are amongst a number of service personnel to be recognised for gallantry in the latest Operational Awards List.
Sergeant Pun, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, had been deployed with a platoon, manning two checkpoints in the east of a remote village. This isolated position had been attacked regularly since being established. On the evening of the day in question, Pun was one of four men left in the southern compound, as his platoon went out on patrol providing reassurance to the local population ahead of the next day’s parliamentary elections. Pun was on duty when he heard a clinking noise to the south of the checkpoint. Realising that he was about to be attacked, he quickly informed his Commander by radio, and fired a weapon launched grenade at the enemy.
In the ensuing firefight, Pun single-handedly fought off an enemy attack onto his lightly manned position. In the dark he fearlessly took the enemy head on, moving around his position to fend off the attack from three sides using all the weapons available to him and ultimately engaging in hand to hand combat. For his outstanding bravery he has been awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.
Royal Marine Lieutenant Jack Anrude has been awarded the Military Cross for his actions whilst patrolling with Afghan National Army forces. Moving through a complex and unfamiliar maze of alleyways, a gunman appeared from a doorway, only metres away and unleashed a hail of automatic fire. Anrude was hit twice once in the head striking his helmet and once in the arm while two other patrol members were seriously injured. Ignoring his own significant injuries, Anrude took immediate and decisive command of the situation. Without effective cover and with casualties, Anrude chose to extract his patrol across two hundred metres of open ground. Leading by example, he picked up the injured Afghan soldier and with bursts of accurate fire striking around him, carried the soldier to safety, pausing only to return fire.
Royal Air Force Warrant Officer, Stephen Charles Bowden, a Force Fire Officer whose bravery and quick thinking in fighting a fire the size of two football pitches have earned him a Queens Gallantry Medal.
Being one of the first to arrive at the scene, Warrant Officer Bowden immediately recognized the severity of the situation and without hesitation, assumed command of the incident. However, forty minutes later, a dust storm took hold, with winds exceeding 60 knots that drove the fire and reduced visibility down to metres. The combination of dust storm and inferno generated a grave threat to Bowden and his team’s lives but with a display of incredible awareness of the situation, Bowden decided to remain and fight the fire, only withdrawing his team at the last safe moment.
Leading from the front, Bowden brought his team back to tackle the inferno, halting it before it spread to the bulk fuel installation containing over one and a half million gallons of fuel. Despite regular explosions, Bowden led his team deep into the heart of the blaze to push the flames back and relieve the pressure on the threatened fuel. Despite suffering disabling smoke injuries to his eyes, and in some pain, Bowden remained at his post throughout the night and well into the next afternoon to oversee the successful culmination of the fire.