Hero soldier Corporal Ricky Furgusson, who lost both legs and an eye in an explosion after rescuing comrades under fire FOUR TIMES was yesterday awarded the Military Cross for Bravery.
Corporal Furgusson, 25, repeatedly ignored his own safety to treat and evacuate colleagues injured by an Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan.
He saved several lives himself before being struck by an IED hidden in a doorway and lost both legs above the knee, his left eye and a finger.
Cpl Furgusson, of 4th Battalion the Rifles, survived and has taken his first steps on stilts this week following months of hospital treatment and rehabilitation.
Yesterday he received a citation for the Military Cross – the third highest award in the British military.
He was among seven soldiers to receive commendations for bravery at a ceremony on Salisbury Plain, Wilts.
Cpl Furgusson said: ”There’s no thought about it at all. I was section commander, and when one of your guys gets injured the first reaction is to go over there, get there as soon as you can and treat him ASAP to keep him alive.
”I’m comfortable with my first aid skills – I was the first one there and tried to keep them alive.
”During my time out there I treated a lot of casualties from my platoon or other units we were working with.
”I was shocked when I heard about getting the award. I only found out on Monday.”
Cpl Furgusson, from Telford, Shropshire, was deployed with A Company, 4th Battalion the Rifles, in September last year as part of Operation Herrick 11.
The mission was to build and occupy nine patrol bases along ‘Route 611’ – the main transit route through southern Helmand – which is littered with IEDs.
It was Cpl Furgusson’s first tour in Afghanistan, although he has served both in Iraq and Northern Ireland during nine years in the military.
On 12th Oct 2009, during his very first patrol, an IED ripped through his section, blowing the leg off one of his comrades.
With no hesitation the brave soldier threw himself into stabilising the casualty, ignoring the danger of further explosives and saving the man’s life before assisting in his evacuation.
On November 8th when a nearby patrol was struck by an explosion Cpl Furgusson again flew into action, treating two casualties while taking control of defence.
Only four days later when his own patrol was struck by an IED Cpl Furgusson again ignored the threat to his own safety from further devices and saved the life of one of his men whose legs had been completely severed.
On December 31st the bachelor again dashed to the aid of a wounded man in the field without concern for his own life.
His commendation read: ”Furgusson’s bravery, personally ignoring the ever-present IED threat when dashing to the aid of wounded men, and his outstanding leadership, time and again rallying his soldiers in the disorientating aftermath of IED strikes, saved men’s lives.
”For his selfless actions he is awarded the Military Cross.”
But on January 13th this year Cpl Furgusson was directly by an IED disguised in a doorway while exiting a compound that was believed to be clear.
Both his legs were ripped from his body and he lost the use of his left eye and sustained significant injuries to his face.
Shockingly, brave Cpl Furgusson remained conscious during his evacuation and even tried several times to get up before his comrades sedated him.
He woke up five weeks later in Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham where he remained for another 17 weeks in recovery before beginning rehabilitation.
He is now walking on new stilts he received only last Thursday.
Smiling and joking at the awards announcement at Ward Barracks in Bulford, Wilts., Cpl Furgusson said: ”I’ve only had these since Thursday – I couldn’t get a casting to fit but luckily these 90 per cent fit.
”I’ve had them a week now. Injury-wise, I was one of the worst casualties in Selly Oak to survive.
”I stayed in Selly Oak a long time, but now that I’m in rehabilitation I just want to get up on my proper legs and stay out of a wheelchair.”
The Military Cross is awarded for exemplary gallantry on land in the presence of the enemy.
Cpl Furgusson will receive the award from the Queen at Buckingham Palace during a ceremony which has not yet been scheduled.
His citation was the highest award announced at the ceremony yesterday.
Lieutenant Colonel Nick Thornton, Cpl Furgusson’s commanding officer, said: ”Cpl Furgusson represents all that is best in a Rifleman – courage, selfless commitment and, ultimately, sacrifices.
”It is a mark of the man that he has worked to overcome his injuries with the same fortitude that he has always shown, and the award of the MC is a fitting testament to a brave and indomitable spirit. We are immensely proud of him.”
* Rifleman Ross Robinson, from the 4th Battalion the Rifles, will be honoured posthumously with the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for Bravery (QGM).
Rfn Robinson, 21, died following a collision with a van near his Wiltshire barracks just 24 hours after being discharged from the Defence Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court in Surrey.
He suffered serious spinal injuries after his patrol was hit by an IED in November last year.
Ignoring devastating pain in his back, Rfn Robinson, from Leeds, picked up a metal detector to clear a safe route for out the other casualties before administering first aid.
He cleared an area for a rescue vehicle and helicopter so the injured could be evacuated before he was immediately evacuated home because of the severity of his own injuries.
His citation reads: ”By his actions Robinson had enabled the swift, safe treatment of the casualty and kept the remainder of his section safe when they were in extreme peril of IEDs. Despite his own serious injury Robinson took the initiative with no thought but to help his stricken fellow rifleman.”
The Queen’s Gallantry Medal was instituted in 1974 and is awarded for exemplary acts of bravery.
* Rifleman Reece Terry, from 4th Battalion the Rifles, will receive the QGM after leading a daring night-time mission to capture a Taliban leader in October last year.
Rfn Terry, from Taunton, 19, led a 100-man force at night with a Vallon metal detector through two kilometres of IED field to capture the insurgent.
His citation read: ”What Terry achieved on that night was unimaginable prior to the event and set the tone for the remainder of the tour by breaking down myths about movement at night through IED belts, shifting the boundaries of the possible in the minds of his fellow riflemen.
”Terry demonstrated a level of skill, courage, stamina, and mental fortitude in the face of the threat of enemy IEDs that was far beyond the call of duty and expectations of his rank or experience.”
Rifleman Peter Matthews and Rifleman Reece Terry
* Rifleman Peter Matthews, from the 4th Battalion the Rifles, will receive the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery for three times demonstrating admirable bravery in the face of enemy fire and IEDs.
The 21-year-old from Saltash, Cornwall, repeatedly navigated uncleared ground after explosions or willingly went under enemy fire to treat injured comrades.
His citation reads: ”To carry out such actions would be noteworthy; to have done this three times is quite extraordinary. His behaviour throughout has been utterly selfless.
Lance Corporal Alex Jones and Corporal Steve Martin
”His first aid skills have undoubtedly saved lives. And he has done it all in the face of a persistent enemy threat that has been both seen and unseen, across a time period that would have worn down a lesser man.”
* Corporal Steve Martin, of 4th Battalion the Rifles, is to be awarded a Mention in Dispatches for demonstrating courage under fire at close range.
Cpl Martin, 31, from Lincoln, broke cover when his men came under enemy attack last year and threw a grenade at the enemy firing position before returning fire with his rifle.
His citation states: ”Often in the thick of the fight and completely unflappable, even when the vehicle he commanded was destroyed in an explosion, Martin’s contribution to the delivery of success in the Upper Gereshk Valley has been profound.
”He is quite an outstanding junior non-commissioned officer whose dedication, courage and selfless commitment are an inspiration to all around him.”
* Acting Sergeant Paul Howard, of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Tank Regiment, is to be awarded a Mention in Dispatches for saving the lives of his men on several occasions.
Acting Sgt Howard, 39, from Letchworth, also rescued seven troops who were trapped after a vehicle rolled into a canal when a section of road they were on collapsed.
Acting Sergeant Paul Howard
His citation reads: ”Time after time, in moments of intense danger, Howard’s calm and decisive leadership was fundamental to the troop remaining combat-effective after such traumatic events.
”For his selfless and relentless courage he deserves formal public recognition.”
Major Richard Streetfield and Lieutenant Charles Winstanley
* Lance Corporal Alex Jones, from 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh, will also receive a Mention in Dispatches for continuing to fight as a vehicle gunner after being shot in the neck.
LCPL Jones, 25, from Swansea, Wales, was offered the chance to return to the UK but he opted to stay on with his platoon in Helmand.
His citation reads: ”Despite being shot in the neck Lance Corporal Jones continued to direct his fire team during a particularly fierce gun battle with the Taliban, consistently putting himself in harm’s way on several further occasions, including an incident in which he was blown up in his Warrior.
”He consistently put his fellow soldiers before himself and always led by example.”
* Lieutenant Charles Winstanley, from 4th Battalion the Rifles, is to be awarded a Mention in Dispatches for actions that included capturing a Taliban bomb factory in Afghanistan.
The citation for Lt Winstanley, 25, from Winchester, Hamps., reads: ”For leadership in the most demanding circumstances Winstanley is highly deserving of public recognition.”
* Warrant Officer Class Two Justin Searle, who served with the 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, is to receive the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service after serving as a Brigade Artillery Operations Officer in Lashkar Gah.
The citation for the soldier, 40, from Cambridgeshire, reads: ”Searle’s courage may not have been tested in the face of the enemy but, in many ways, the pressures on him have been greater.”