Forces heroes honoured for bravery

Andover Advertiser: Sergeant Rachael Robinson, 37, was repeatedly smashed against the deck of a French fishing vessel as she dangled from an RAF Sea King Sergeant Rachael Robinson, 37, was repeatedly smashed against the deck of a French fishing vessel as she dangled from an RAF Sea King

The only female winchman in the RAF, a Royal Marine who speaks six languages, and a soldier who dodged Taliban bullets while running across 100 metres of open ground to save an injured Afghan are among the latest round of military stars to be honoured for their bravery.

The heroes were singled out among 117 members of the British armed forces recognised in the latest Operational Honours.

Sergeant Rachael Robinson, 37, was repeatedly smashed against the deck of a French fishing vessel as she dangled from an RAF Sea King helicopter on March 21 this year.

For 30 minutes, Sgt Robinson was just about to disconnect her wire and board the boat 50 nautical miles west of Milford Haven only for it to pitch violently and roll 40ft, pummelling her again and again.

"It was like running into a wall," she said.

A Portuguese crew member had smashed his head open on a door in the horrendous conditions and needed urgent help as his condition deteriorated.

Royal Marine Captain Owen Davis, 25, spent a year learning Pashto so he could accompany the Afghan Local Police (ALP) as they played a crucial role in taking over from international troops in steadying Afghanistan's war-blighted Helmand Province.

The Marine, who was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross in the latest round of military honours, was appointed as a cultural advisor to work with 25 ALP officers in a fragile stretch of Nahri Saraj and the upper Gereshk Valley which was being targeted by determined Taliban fighters.

Capt Davis, from Swansea, was given the award for feats of leadership in battle and for overcoming cultural boundaries which saw him live and work with his Afghan officers for several months - and share a bed with several of them for weeks at a time.

The former professional rower led a team of ALP in killing a band of Taliban who had earlier shot British troops.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "While the role of our forces in Afghanistan is changing with the Afghan forces assuming the lead for security operations across the country, the courage and bravery of British forces deployed remains constant and undiminished.

"Those honoured today have displayed exceptional dedication and commitment to their country, their comrades and the mission.

"As we enter the final phases of combat operations in Afghanistan, British forces deserve our recognition and gratitude for their role in helping to keep us safe in the UK."

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