Hero para to be rewarded for bravery

A COLCHESTER paratrooper who saved the life of a wounded American soldier while under heavy fire from the Taliban could be one of the first British troops to be awarded a gallantry medal in Afghanistan.

By Sharon Asplin

A COLCHESTER paratrooper who saved the life of a wounded American soldier while under heavy fire from the Taliban could be one of the first British troops to be awarded a gallantry medal in Afghanistan.

Pte Peter McKinley has been praised by his commanders for a "massive display of bravery" after helping the US sergeant in one of the most intense battles 3 Battalion the Parachute Regiment has experienced during its deployment to Helmand province.

Military sources said he would receive recognition for his courageous act.


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The 21-year-old was part of a 100-strong force of Paras who came to the rescue of an American convoy of 10 vehicles, which had been ambushed near the town of Sangin on June 13. The Americans had taken high ground where the Paras formed a defensive cordon, but as darkness fell 30 heavily-armed Taliban crept close to their position and opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns.

Two American soldiers, who had taken cover inside a jeep, were badly wounded. As the soldiers screamed "medic, medic", Pte McKinley, the trained First Aid soldier in his eight-man section, jumped up and sprinted across open ground to the vehicle as enemy rounds passed overhead.

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He found the Americans covered in blood with the sergeant's face shredded by shrapnel, an eye dislodged, his scalp torn back, a broken arm, a neck injury and fragments in his legs.

"They were still firing at us when I ran back to the Humvee," the soldier, who is based at the Colchester Garrison, told a national newspaper. "The sergeant was in a pretty bad way but my training just kicked in and I spent about 15 minutes looking after his wounds, stemming the flow of blood and keeping his airway clear."

The injured soldier was later evacuated to the British base at Camp Bastion.

Major Will Pike, commander of A Company, said: "He was very brave while completely disregarding his own safety."

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