Bomb disposal heroes receive Afghanistan medals 19 April 2010

200 Soldiers from the Counter Improvised Explosive Device Task Force (C-IED) were officially welcomed back to the UK on Friday when they marched through Didcot, Oxfordshire, and received their Op Herrick campaign medals.

Troops from the Counter Improvised Explosive Device Task Force (C-IED) were officially welcomed back to the UK on Friday when they marched through Didcot, Oxfordshire, and received their Herrick’ campaign medals.

The 200 soldiers were awarded their medals from Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Mr Tim Stevenson OBE.

Lauded as heroes, from all the soldiers in Helmand ranging from Privates to Commanding Officers, everyone was in no doubt that these remarkable soldiers saved numerous lives.

"They are real heroes of this campaign," said Major Rob Philipson-Stow, Second-in-Command of the Household Cavalry Regiment Battle Group based in Musa Qal'ah. "The way they approach their job is phenomenal."

Along with Royal Engineer specialists, Royal Military Police, Military Working Dogs and members of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, they worked in teams providing three different capabilities: Improvised Explosive Device Disposal, Conventional Munitions Disposal and High Risk Search teams, all of whom were responsible for finding and disposing of bombs and improvised explosive devices.

It brought the force numerous awards in the recent Operational Honours including two George Crosses, the highest award for gallantry that can be bestowed; one posthumously for Staff Sergeant Olaf 'Oz' Schmid and the other, Staff Sergeant Kim Hughes.

Brigadier James Cowan, the Commander of Task Force Helmand, said: "The men and women of the C-IED Task Force are an extraordinary group of people.

"Selflessly committed to their dangerous work and utterly professional, there isn't a soldier in Task Force Helmand who doesn't hold them in the utmost respect for what they do and the way they do it.

"I am deeply proud to have them serving as part of my brigade, saving military and civilian lives day-in and day-out. They are some of the true heroes of this campaign."

Tragically, the tour saw the loss of Captain Dan Read, Staff Sergeant Schmid, Corporal Marlton-Thomas, Warrant Officer Second Class Markland, Corporal Oakland, Sapper Mellors and Sapper Watson.

The parade marched behind the Band of The Rifles, stepping off from the Orchard Centre in Didcot. Half an hour later they arrived at the town’s Civic Hall for the presentation of their medals.