A brave soldier who lost both legs and an arm in Afghanistan took his first steps on new prosthetic limbs – to receive a military medal.
Triple amputee Corporal Andy Reid, 33, proudly marched shoulder-to-shoulder with 221 comrades from 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment to receive his Operational Service Medal.
He stood tall for over 30 minutes in blistering heat and was cheered by 200 spectators as he walked 30 metres to his girlfriend Claire Smith, 28, in the crowd.
Cpl Reid, from St Helens, Merseyside, lost both legs and his right arm in a mine blast last October.
Yesterday’s ceremony was the first time he has walked on his prosthetic legs outside of his hospital physiotherapy sessions.
Speaking after the hour-long ceremony in Warminster, Wilts., he said: ”It felt good being up there receiving my medal. It means a lot to stand alongside the lads.
”It was a big morale boost to hear the band playing and people clapping.
”I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it at all, and it took a lot of training, but I did it. It was really difficult and was really hard work but I’m so glad I did it.”
Cpl Reid, who next month will ride a special motorcycle trike from Land’s End to John O’Groats for Help for Heroes, said he was looking forward to continuing his rehabilitation.
”I’ll head back to Headley Court where my rehabilitation continues and I’m looking forward now to the charity trike ride.”
The hour-long medal ceremony at Battlesbury Barracks in Warminster, Wilts., was held to reward 222 members of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment.
The regiment provided soldiers as Battle Casualty Replacements in July last year to serve with 19 Light Brigade in Helmand Province as part of Operation Herrick.
They also offered support as part of Operation Panther’s Claw – the bloodiest offensive yet in Afghanistan.
Three of the battalion lost their lives during the deployment, including Private Jonathon (corr) Young, who was killed on August 20.
Lance Corporal Graham Shaw and Corporal Liam Riley were both killed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) on the same patrol on February 1.
Cpl Reid hopes to build up enough strength to go down on one knee and proposed to girlfriend Claire later this year.
Speaking earlier this year, he said: ”We want to get engaged this year and as soon as I can get down on my knee I will ask Claire to marry me.
”That is one of my big goals for the summer. It will be great to be able to do that. I am so proud of her for the way she has supported me.”
Paying tribute to the men who lost their lives, the Duke of Wellington said: ”It’s an enormous pleasure being here today.
”This parade represents unique proud achievement.
”Once deployed, these men served in some of the toughest parts of Helmand Province.
”They showed a steely resolve, courage and determination that I would like to recognise here today.
”But the operation was not without loss. Three men, Private Young, Lance Corporal Graham Shaw and Corporal Liam Riley sadly died.
”And it is them I would like to pay tribute to. These men made the ultimate sacrifice.”
The company’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Tom Vallings, added: ”There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think about the man who made the sacrifice.
”In particular, I would like to mention Cpl Andy Reid, for his determination, positivity and inability to complain about anything at any stage.
”He is an inspiration to us all. I know he was determined to walk today. Well Andy, you did it. Well done.”
Before his injury Cpl Reid’s role was as Warrior Sergeant in charge of armoured vehicles. And once he is fit again he hopes to become an instructor in the Armoured Infantry Wing.
He will be undertaking a charity trike ride form Lands End to John O’Groats for Help for Heroes on August 27.