TWO Wattisham-based soldiers are to receive top honours for their efforts during air operations in Libya.

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Warrant Officer First Class 1 Jonathan Lane is to be presented with a Queen’s Commendation For Bravery – one of the Army’s oldest forms of recognition for gallantry. He has also been mentioned in dispatches.

Major Mike Neville, the officer commanding 656 Squadron, of 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, and commander of Apache attack helicopter missions over Libya, is to receive a Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service.

WO1 Lane, 37, was the front seat aircraft commander in the second pair of Apache helicopters directed to target an enemy command and control centre between Misratah and Zlitan.

As the helicopter began its attack run, he was engaged by an SA-24 surface-to-air missile. Holding his nerve as the missile soared towards him, he was able to identify its firing point before using the aircraft’s flares to decoy the missile and return fire.

WO1 Lane, of 656 Squadron, part of 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, is no stranger to enemy fire, having served two tours in Afghanistan and six in Iraq.

He said: “Although I had come under small arms fire and anti-aircraft artillery attack before, this was the first time I had experienced a surface to air missile and, despite going through that scenario in a simulator, it was a real shock.”

Major Neville, 38, commanded 22 Apache missions, which hit more than 100 targets, firing 99 Hellfire missiles and 4,800 30mm cannon rounds.

He flew on 10 of these operations and his Apache was routinely targeted by small arms fire as well as SA-24 missiles.

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