Published Friday, 28 September 2012
The military cross has been awarded to one soldier at Ballykinler. (© UTV)
The soldiers, based at Holywood with 2 Mercian and at Ballykinler with 2 Rifles have all just recently returned from tours of duty in Afghanistan.
Those honoured come under the command of the 19 light brigade which has been drawn down as part of the latest army restructuring.
Rifleman James Wilson of 2 Rifles at Ballykinler has been awarded the Military Cross for demonstrating 'selfless courage' when he twice dashed across open ground under heavy enemy fire in an attempt to save a stricken colleague.
James took on a sharpshooter after a colleague was critically injured during an ambush. James was knocked unconscious when a bullet struck his helmet- when he came to he returned to engage the enemy to aid a casualty helicopter.
"Where many would have crumbled under pressure, shock or fear, Wilson immediately rose to the challenge and took the fight forward to the enemy. This young man is a fine example of conspicuous courage that few display in the face of mortal danger," his citation stated.
Captain Mark Shawyer of Ballykinler has been awarded a Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service (QCVS) for his cultural sensitivity, dedication and leadership.
He was the senior British officer in Loy Mandeh, a notoriously violent area which was heavily mined with Improvised Explosive Devices and where small arms contacts were routine.
His role was to develop the Afghan National Army (ANA) while providing its link with the Estonian, US and British security forces he was advising. The role often left him isolated and cut off from his chain of command.
Captain Shawyer's citation highlights his work guiding a 150-strong Afghan unit and his ability to inspire calmness and confidence in the men while under fire, allowing them to strike back at the Taliban who engaged them.
He was also praised for his ability to intervene in disputes between Afghans in order to prevent bloodshed, sometimes at "significant personal risk".
19-year-old Private Joe Blakey based at Holywood was awarded a Mention in Despatches for showing huge bravery during his first tour in Afghanistan, when he helped treat and evacuate Private Matthew Haseldin after he was shot.
Captain Mark Cripps, of Ballykinler also received the same honour for foiling a complex enemy ambush and maintaining an outstanding relationship with the ANA.
Corporal Ryan Hone, also based at Ballykinler, was awarded a Queen's Commendation For Bravery (QCB) for giving life-saving treatment to a colleague who suffered catastrophic injuries in a bomb blast initiated by an insurgent.
The Commanding Officer for 2 Mercians at Holywood, Lieutenant Colonel Colin Marks, was also awarded a Queens Commendation for Valuable Service (QCVS) for his leadership in transforming an area in the Upper Gereshk Valley.
Brigadier Edward Chamberlain from the Ballykinler base praised his colleagues' acheivements.
"I'm immensely proud of my soldiers, we've got some extremely brave young men and women, both within this brigade and more widely," he said.