Military Cross Royal Marine 'gobsmacked'

The Royal Marine commando who was awarded the Military Cross – the most junior rank ever to win the medal - has said today that he was "gobsmacked" by the news.

Marine Liam Armstrong, 23, of 45 Commando, was among dozens of honours and awards presented to military personnel for their work in Northern Ireland, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, the Gulf and the Congo.

It was announced today that Marine Armstrong was being recognised for "exemplary bravery and initiative well beyond that expected for his rank and service" during operations in Afghanistan.

Armstrong, a Heavy Machine Gunner with 45 Commando, was involved in Operation Jacana last year – a mopping up operation after the fall of the Taliban.

He and another Marine uncovered a terrorist compound near Kabul and were confronted by a group of nine armed men. The commandos captured them and uncovered a 45-ton cache of weapons and explosives without firing a shot.

The MoD say today's announcements acknowledge the "commitment and courage that British personnel regularly display in their daily work of defending the nation and supporting peace and humanity worldwide".

Also recognised was Brigadier Roger Lane, commander of 3 Commando Brigade, who was awarded CBE for his "outstanding command" of the Afghan taskforce.

An MoD spokesperson said: "The force was required to operate in an area of extreme physical conditions and the demands placed upon him were unequalled. He led his formation with utmost integrity and skill displaying great moral courage and fortitude."

Commenting on the awards, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said: "The gallantry and bravery of our servicemen and women, serving both at home and on operations, is unquestioned. These awards name those that have displayed exceptional attributes, in fortitude, leadership or when faced with extreme danger while serving their country. They are an example to all and deserve our wholehearted congratulations."

The awards relate to tours of duty between 1 April to 30 September 2002.


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