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Beyond the call of duty: Sun Military Awards

12 December 2016

The Sun Military awards are what the newspaper considers the nation's salute to our armed forces. Here are our nominees, as chosen by the public:

Hero at Home Unit

11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) (pictured)

11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Regiment have continued to protect the UK population by immediately responding 365 days a year to civil authority requests for Bomb Disposal duties. The Regiment has responded to 1502 incidents in the first eight months of 2016, of which 241 were possible Improvised Explosive Devices.

Several incidents brought widespread attention and required the highest possible skill and dedication to ensure a safe and successful resolution. The discovery of an unexploded 500kg German WW2 bomb in Bath in May saw a 30 hour on-going operation to render the bomb safe and move it to an alternative location where it could be safely destroyed. The bomb was still live and presented considerable danger to the operators who worked tirelessly to prevent a catastrophic detonation in the centre of the city.

In February, following the partial collapse of Site A of Didcot power station which trapped and killed four workers, EOD teams used remote equipment to search for possible survivors. At a later stage, the Regiment planned and managed specialist military remote control assets to assist in the recover the bodies of those who had lost their lives, trying to minimise the distress and anguish of the victims' families.

The EOD Operators of 11 EOD Regiment and the teams that support them show a relentless bravery, dedication and commitment to serving their country. They constantly operate on extremely short readiness to react to dangerous and unknown situations under intense pressure and scrutiny. With 200 personnel on duty at any one time and each equally ready to face adversity, the unit as a whole is devoted to keeping the public safe which makes 11 EOD Regiment, and the personnel serving within it, so deserving of the Heroes at Home Award.

Judges Special Award

2nd Battalion the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment (2 LANCS)

Throughout December 2015 Northern England was battered by a series of unprecedented storms. As the United Kingdom Standby Battalion, 2 LANCS provided crucial manpower and equipment support to the Emergency Services.

Plunging into icy, dark flood water with little equipment or training - about 300 troops from the Battalion took part in searches alongside the Emergency Services. The manpower surge proved crucial, allowing devastated areas of Carlisle, York and Calderdale to be cleared at significant pace. The soldiers' calm thinking in those first few hours undoubtedly saved lives ... in Carlisle rescuing a trapped elderly resident with hypothermia while in Lancaster a Junior Officer showing great initiative rerolled Troop Carrying 4x4s into Ambulances: ferrying critically ill patients through flooded Lancaster to the isolated Hospital.

In driving rain and darkness, young Platoon and Section Commanders drew on operational and exercise experiences to assist their emergency service colleagues coordinating complicated movements through chaotic streets. Further back, out of the glare of the media lens, senior staff and signallers provided vital command and control manpower to the overstretched civil agencies.

 As the rain cleared and the true extent of the flooding became clear, the Battalion remained on the ground. Without any respite, members of 2 LANCS retasked to supporting isolated communities across the Region. Members of Dettingen Company in their 4x4 lorries were the first responders to reach the cut off town of Glenridding, delivering urgently needed bottled water and food.

With the emergency phase ending and many of the emergency services standing down, 2 LANCS remained in Cumbria and Lancashire. Over the course of 10 days, the Battalion waded through acres of sewage and silt caked streets, helping distraught homeowners clear their properties and search for lost valuables. This task was demanding, dirty and draining - both physically and emotionally. As 2 LANCS' soldiers are recruited from the North West many of them found themselves working amongst the ruins of childhood homes, their friends and their families, yet the troops remained composed and professional throughout.

Working beyond the point of exhaustion, often in the dark whilst waist deep in freezing floodwater and sewage, every single member of the Unit found themselves involved. Whether carrying casualties through flooded streets, delivering much needed aid to cut off communities or supporting the frontline with food and logistics from Weeton Barracks, the 'Lions of England' provided vital assistance to the communities of the North of the Country.

British Army assist the Environment Agency with floods.

Pictured: Members of 2 LANCS assist the Environment Agency in the North of England

Hero at Home Individual

Private Jake Farr, First Battalion, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment

On 12th December 2015 Private Jake Farr was on leave and visiting his parents in Iver, Buckinghamshire. On hearing a disturbance, he left the house and discovered a woman holding a very small baby. The woman was extremely distressed and the baby appeared to be lifeless. With exceptional presence of mind, Private Farr immediately took control, calmed the woman and made a rapid assessment of the baby's condition. On finding neither pulse, nor detectable breathing, he started cardio-pulmonary respiration (chest compressions) and (concurrently) delivered clear and concise instruction to a bystander to call 999 and act as a relay. He continued to administer chest compressions and artificial respiration and follow the relayed direction of the 999 operator until an ambulance arrived. Having handed the baby into the care of paramedics, he gathered and calmed the baby's family and accompanied them to hospital. The baby spent a period in intensive care, and has since made a full recovery.

The courage, decisiveness, maturity and compassion he demonstrated on 12th December 2015 are far beyond that normally expected from a soldier of his age and experience. Since the incident, Private Farr has not only remained consummately professional, but also remarkably unassuming and modest, despite widespread congratulation and praise. He has, on more than one occasion, described his actions as, "...like MATT 3 but less" (MATT 3 is the mandatory battlefield first aid training undertaken annually by all soldiers).

Private Farr is the epitome of a twenty first century Infantry soldier. He is courageous, decisive, compassionate and self-effacing. In doing what he did on 12th December 2015, he not only saved a human life, but also made a hugely positive reputational impact in terms of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment and the wider Army.

Best Reservist

Colour Sergeant Roger Coates of the Personnel Recover Centre Catterick

Totally committed to those undergoing difficult Recovery journeys, Colour Sergeant Roger Coates dedicates himself to instilling self-belief, resilience and re-igniting a sense of adventure in those who have faced life changing injury or illness.

A Battle Back instructor at Phoenix House Recovery Centre, Catterick, Roger simply refuses to accept "I cant .." and always finds innovative ways to overcome physical and psychological difficulties for each individual. His approach to genuine person-centred support is exemplary.

Colour Sergeant Coates' absolute desire to make a difference to someone's life is always at the forefront of his mind. Over the past 12 months, he has helped a huge amount of long term wounded, injured and sick service personnel achieve what they thought was impossible, including Ironman challenges, the Pennine Way, Tough Mudder, Lakeland 50 long distance trail walk and numerous extreme cycle challenges. A dynamic motivator, as well as a talented musician, he has also inspired service personnel to engage in music as part of their recovery pathway -his guitar workshops are legendary!

Roger's commitment and unfailing enthusiasm have made a significant, long-term, positive impact on all those who have worked with him at the Recovery Centre. His dogged determination, great sense of humour and a passion to help others achieve what they thought was impossible, sets Roger out as exceptional. He consistently goes 'above and beyond' to support our injured and sick service personnel, veterans and families and deserves formal recognition for his inspiration and selfless dedication to others.

Hero Overseas Individual

Sergeant Carl Taylor MC, 1 Mercian Regiment

Sergeant Carl Taylor, 3 Mercian Regiment Sgt Taylor MC (pictured) is currently deployed on Op ORBITAL, a capability building operation designed to support the development of the Ukrainian Army. He is a newly promoted Sgt in his first reporting year but is already outperforming many of my more experienced SNCOs; he is currently a senior Infantry instructor teaching urban operations and Pl tactics.

Sgt Taylor has made a significant impact on both the quantitative and qualitative standards of training being delivered to a key ally. The Ukrainian conflict has seen conventional war fighting on a scale rarely experienced since the end of the Second World War; Ukranian battle-hardened soldiers and officers have high standards and it takes a significant personality to instruct them effectively. This is where Sgt Taylor has excelled. His outstanding instructional technique, no-nonsense approach and his ability to make our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq relevant to a sceptical audience have multiplied our operational output.

There is no doubt that Sgt Taylor's professionalism has contributed to an increase in demand for training from the wider Ukrainian Armed Forces. Almost every Ukrainian Armed Forces Comd we have served with has personally commented on Sgt Taylor's attitude, effectiveness and instructional ability. This has led to repeated requests for additional training, with some training centres personally requesting him by name.

Sgt Taylor is a young but nevertheless extremely capable SNCO who has demonstrated tact, diplomacy, moral courage and strong leadership, both on Op ORBITAL and as a new platoon sergeant in A Company. His raw talent has seen him singled out from a number of instructors from across 1 Armd Inf Bde by Comd ORBITAL who noted the impact he has had on this important operational deployment.

Hero Overseas - Unit

2nd Battalion the Rifles (2 RIFLES)

The alarming reduction in the African Elephant population has been very much in the headlines in recent times. Gabon, in West Africa has one of the last and largest sustainable population of Forest Elephants on the continent. The local authorities were finding it difficult to cope with the increased volume of cross border poaching raids. The security of this vital population was in serious doubt. The 2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 RIFLES) was tasked to conduct a series of Short Term Training Teams to improve the capability of the Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux (ANPN)- the Gabon Parks Agency.

Six missions, starting in August 2015, are being conducted over a two year period, using DEFRA funding as part of a coordinated, cross-government approach. With small teams of Riflemen, deploying deep into the Gabonese jungle, 2 RIFLES set about rebuilding the capability of the ANPN rangers.

In a still on-going mission, Riflemen from 2 RIFLES have now established a baseline of tactical ability that is already paying dividends in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade in West Africa. Over the next year, further teams will deploy to teach the Gabonese how to target their operations against the smugglers, building genuine capibility throughout the organisation, from foot patrol to operational management. Here 2 RIFLES will employ the lessons it learned in Iraq and Afghanistan to great effect in a new and vital sector.

2 RIFLES has already achieved real success in increasing ANPN counter-poaching capability over the past twelve months. It is still early days, but the ANPN is already better prepared to face cross border paoching in some of the most inhospitable terrain in Africa. 2 RIFLES will continue to work hard to support the APNP and hopefully protect Gabon's incredible wildlife for many generations to come.

2 Rifles teach elephant anti-poachers in Gabon.

Pictured: 2 Rifles teach elephant anti-poachers in Gabon.

Overcoming Adversity

Former CSgt Marty Wilson

Marty was shot in the head whilst serving in Afghanistan - he has quietly got on with an amazing rehabilitation process, learning how to talk, read and write again. The whole time he attended Colchester PRU he did nothing but think of the other lads. I worked with him as an Occupational Psychologist and saw the quiet determination and humility with which he managed to overcome and achieve great progression with severely debilitating injuries!

He would hate being thrust into the lime light but deserves recognition for the way in which he has gone about his recovery. Completing a charity triathlon with me in 2015 he raised money for military charities and awareness of brain injury- which is an often overlooked but very difficult injury to deal with!

Captain Hannah Winterbourne Inspiring Others

Captain Hannah Winterbourne, REME 

Hannah's story is an inspiration to all who meet her. As a openly transgender woman in the Army, she has used her experiences to help support others who may be transitioning too, not only in the Army but also Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. She is a strong advocate and champion of diversity and inclusion, and has also engaged with other overseas militaries to help them develop their transgender policies. Aside from that, she remains a highly skilled and professional officer, committed to the safety of the country, and is testament to the benefit gained by having inclusive leadership.

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