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Soldier honoured for outstanding bravery

26 February 2015

An infantry soldier has been awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery for his extraordinary courage and presence of mind during a suicide IED attack on his company, which wounded four patrol members and killed the Warrior Sergeant Major.

Private John Pyatt-Payne, 26, of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, based at Bulford Camp, was deployed on an operation to protect the vital arterial routes in Helmand Prov-ince during Operation Herrick 19.

On 5 November 2014, John, was inside a static Warrior Fighting Vehicle, providing security to an Afghan National Security Force Liaison visit when his patrol was targeted by a large suicide vehicle-borne IED which exploded just metres from his vehicle.


Took total control

Due to the close proximity of the blast, John was physically lifted and thrown across the inside of the Warrior. Although severely shaken, he remained composed and, assessing the situation, realised that not only was he the only uninjured soldier in his vehicle, but also the only uninjured soldier in either of the two Warrior vehicles damaged in the blast.

“It was towards the end of an operation,” said John. “We went to an ANA compound to re-assure, and speak to their command with our command. Basically I was left behind in the back of the vehicle and the explosion happened.”

Ignoring any potential threat from secondary devices or indeed follow-up insurgent small arms fire, John dismounted from his vehicle and took total control of the situation. “My initial thought was that there was going to be another IED,” said John. “So, I got out of the back doors and climbed on the top, in case I set off a secondary.”


Severely wounded soldier

Firstly moving to the front of the Warrior, John gave reassurance to a very distressed driver who was in shock. Next he climbed onto the top of his stricken vehicle to assess the inju-ries of the gunner. Now fully exposed and in full view of any potential enemy, his priority was to treat the severely wounded soldier as well as continuing to reassure the injured and shocked driver.

John was unable to pull the gunner from the turret and proceeded to give critical first aid in situ. For six minutes, John treated his casualty while being exposed to the possibility of small arms fire or indeed a second attack.

Once the Combat Medic arrived, John gave a full and impressively detailed casualty hand-over, continuing to support the medic as he treated and evacuated the injured gunner from the top of the exposed Warrior.

John, from Wolverhampton, said: “It was about 5 or 10 minutes before help came, but it took me and the medics 15 minutes working on the casualties and then we got them airlift-ed out of there.

John said: “I just jumped up and did what I had to do. You don’t think about it really. You just get on with it. It’s your job. I still don’t think it was brave of me, though.”


Bravery was outstanding

His citation states: “Pyatt-Payne’s bravery was outstanding in the confusing first minutes of this tragic event. For someone so young he showed decisiveness and composure way be-yond his years and rank. It is for this that he deserves formal recognition.”

John said: “When I found out I was getting the award I was really shocked. I was on leave and my Commanding Officer phoned me.

“I told my mum and dad I was getting an award but I didn’t tell them what it was. They’re proud, but they’re proud of me any way for being in the Army.”


Gallantry entailing risk to life

The Queen’s Commendation for Bravery marks specific acts of gallantry entailing risk to life not in the face of the enemy.

The announcement was made today with the release of the latest Operational Honours and Awards which includes 140 personnel. The awards are principally for actions on Operation HERRICK during the period October 2013 to June 2014

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