Recognition for Helmand heroes

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ROYAL Marines from 45 Commando have been honoured for their work in Afghanistan during Operation Herrick 14.

The men from the Arbroath-based Commando received top national honours for their efforts in bringing peace to the Nad-e-Ali (South) district of Helmand Province, which has been blighted by the destabilising effect of the Taliban for years.

The men of 45 Commando engaged in a sophisticated and courageous counter-insurgency campaign against the Taliban and brought about the first summer in recent memory where Nad-e-Ali was not a battleground.

In doing so they gave hope to the people of Nad-e-Ali, significantly progressed the multi-national campaign plan forward, and brought all of their men home alive.

Those honoured include the former commanding officer, Colonel Oliver Lee, who received an OBE. Other awards include two MBEs, two Queen’s Commendations for Valuable Service and five commendations from the Commander of Joint Operations.

Colonel Oliver Lee MBE receives an OBE for his outstanding contribution to campaign progress in Nad-e-Ali. Utilising a truly visionary approach, he communicated his plan to the commando and led from the front to place the Afghans at the very forefront of every action during Operation Herrick 14.

Major Nik Cavill received an MBE for his outstanding leadership and mastery of counter insurgency in command of X-Ray Company. A courageous soldier, he shared risk, hardship and constantly led from the front.

Captain Ross Drinkwater received an MBE for his efforts in establishing and developing the Afghan local police. Single-handedly and in spite of odds heavily stacked against him which sometimes seemed overwhelming, he delivered a security solution for Nad-e-Ali that will endure.

Reverend Doctor Scott Shackleton received the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service for his work as the Commando’s Padre. His stand-out contribution was in the uncharted waters of ecumenical religious understanding. He reached out to religious leaders of all faiths and in doing so substantially enhanced the legitimacy of the Afghan Security Forces in the eyes of the Afghan people.

Major Paul Maynard has been awarded the Joint Commander’s Commendation for his outstanding performance in command of Whiskey Company. Coupled with his pioneering work to develop counter-insurgency techniques, he recognised exactly what was required to achieve mission success and delivered it in spades.

Warrant Officer Second Class Gaz Falconer is awarded the Joint Commander’s Commendation for his endeavours in keeping the commando running. His industry resulting in unprecedented levels of equipment availability.

Sergeant Adam Whittle has been awarded the Joint Commander’s Commendation for his contribution to changing the fortunes of the Afghan people. The wholly unusual strength of his relationships with the locals, his empathetic approach and ability to unify the local tribes had a profound and lasting impact.

Marine Sam Clements received the Joint Commander’s Commendation for saving the life of his section commander who was profoundly wounded by an improvised explosive device. Clements found himself nearest and reacted to a horrific situation with immense distinction, blatant disregard for his own safety and an iron will to save his stricken comrade.

Marine Luke Jordan was awarded the Joint Commander’s Commendation for his work in developing a deep and sophisticated understanding of his company’s area of operations. His work was the bedrock upon which X-Ray Company operated.

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