A hero soldier is to be honoured by the Queen after saving countless lives in Afghanistan by defusing – 93 BOMBS.
Fearless Captain Wayne Owers, 39, calmly dealt with the deadly devices on a tour of duty between March and September last year.
His 12-man team from the Royal Logistic Corps was blown up twice in Helmand Province, but incredibly they all dodged death.
The number of explosives Cpt Owers defused amounts to an incredible one roadside bomb every two days.
He is now recovering at home in Leamington Spa, Warks., with wife Sukie, 39, and daughter Poppy, two, after receiving a citation for the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.
He said: ”Unbelievably, I used to enjoy it. But when that first bomb went off I started to get a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.
”One of the things people say to me is ‘how many bombs have you dealt with’. I simply say it doesn’t really matter.
”The number is not important but it has significance. It’s significant because every time you look down at a bomb, the closer you are to something going horribly wrong.”
Cpt Owens joined the forces 20 years ago and served in Iraq, Bosnia, Oman, Kosovo and Northern Ireland before Afghanistan.
During the latest tour of Helmand Province five of his team defused bombs and the other seven searched for them.
They suffered the first horrific explosion in May when a soldier lost two arms and a leg, but Cpt Owens escaped unharmed.
He also walked away from a second explosion two months later when Cpl Johnny Wallace stood on a device and four of the team were blown up.
But he saved colleague L/Cpl Timmins’ life by pulling his tongue from his throat and slapping his back to stop him choking.
L/Cpl Timmins said: ”As a result of what Capt Owers did I was sick, cleared my airways and I was squared away – we laugh about it now and about how his unorthodox medical technique saved my life.”
Cpt Owers added: ”Cpl Wallace was handing me equipment – that’s how close I was when it went off. It just went bang and I flew backwards.
”I didn’t break a fingernail. I was very lucky.
”I just think that what we went through is such a remarkable achievement for such a small group of lads.
”I’m so proud because I commanded them but also because they richly deserve recognition.”
Cpt Owers’ citation for the Queen’s Gallantry Medal says he dealt with 93 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) – but he estimates the figure at a more conservative 82.
He said: ”It’s one of the things you remember. I don’t know where they got 93 from. We just got on with it out in the field.
”Confidence is built on knowing your training was first class, your team being professional and reliable and the wider military protection you receive on each task from the battle groups.”
”The operational honours and awards list came out last Friday and my jaw dropped when they said I was in line for a medal. I’ll be collecting it from her majesty later this year.
”Bomb disposal is an insanely dangerous job and it’s only through sheer luck that I’m alive today and close friends have been killed.
”The bombs that the Taliban make are incredibly crude. For the most part they’re made from rubbish in back gardens and packed with explosives.
”I can’t tell anybody how we diffuse the bombs because that kind of information could help the Taliban, but it’s not rocket science.
”The locals will point out where bombs have been placed or foot soldiers will find them using metal detectors.
”There’s usually a couple of Taliban at the end of the road spying on us when we’re diffusing them.
”I’ve been told by the rest of my team and the operational commander that I’m the only serviceman to diffuse that many bombs. The previous number was in the 60s.”
Cpt Owers’ citation from the MoD states: ”Such courage and resolute determination to complete tasks irrespective of the risk to his own life has been Owers’ hallmark.
”His inspirational actions have served to instil real confidence in commanders and subordinates alike, have enabled countless missions to succeed and directly saved innumerable lives. His courage and gallantry is worthy of the very highest level of formal recognition.”
Capt Owers and other members of his team are cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for the British Ex-service Men’s Association in June and July.