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July 23, 2008

Royal Marine awarded George Cross

L/Cpl Matthew Croucher will be awarded the George Cross by the Queen in recognition of his act of bravery in saving three of his fellow comrades.   

Croucher will be joining a very select group of only 20 living George Cross holders.  The George Cross is the highest decoration awarded for bravery whilst not in the face of the enemy.

The incident for which the award is being given occurred last February in the Helmand province, Afghanistan.  Croucher set off the trip wire booby trap and knew he had to do anything to protect his fellow soldiers.

"I thought, 'I've set this bloody thing off and I'm going to do whatever it takes to protect the others,'he said

He alerted the other men with the call "Grenade. Take Cover"

Knowing that there was no cover, the serviceman from Birmingham, England took the decision to cover the grenade with his body.

"I knew a grenade like this has a killing circumference of about five metres," he said. "I'd been through this scenario in my mind and realised there was nowhere to take cover-there's no point running off because you're going to catch shrapnel.The lads behind me would have caught a lot too."

L/Cpl Croucher had just seconds to make his decision which was to roll over and use his backpack to smother the grenade and contain the shrapnel fragments. When the grenade exploded, Croucher, was thrown through the air and suffered only a nose bleed.  He "fully expected" to lose a limb and realised the outcome could have been much worse.

"It took 30 seconds before I realised I was definitely not dead," he said.

After being checked over by a medic who recommended evacuation for the Marine, L/Cpl Croucher declined in favor of remaining with his unit.

L/Cpl Croucher has kept his backpack as a trophy of the day he "beat the grim reaper".

"When I see it I'm constantly reminded how lucky I am," he said.


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July 23, 2008 in Military | Permalink

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