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Wirral soldier praised for 'immense courage' during tour of Afghanistan
A WIRRAL soldier who showed immense courage while protecting Afghan civilians in the face of insurgent fire has been awarded a Mention in Despatches.
Lance Bombardier Stephen Kenny, 26, from Birkenhead, a member of 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, based at Catterick Garrison, in North Yorkshire, was tasked to provide protection to an Afghan National Security Force clearance operation.
Stephen and his colleague, a Forward Air Controller, travelled by Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle to an area of observation posts manned by security contractors when they came under attack and a contractor was shot.
With enemy rounds hitting their vehicle, the two placed themselves in greater danger by moving across exposed ground into one of the observation posts where they attempted to identify the enemy firing point.
Stephen, whilst being shot at and controlling the artillery, was passing information to the headquarters which allowed them to plan for the casualty’s extraction.
The Forward Air Controller guided an Apache helicopter to fire warning shots into the enemy location, but it was clear that artillery would be needed to end the fight and save lives.
Stephen put himself in danger to confirm that no civilians would be put at risk, warned the Apache helicopters to stay clear and ordered the artillery to fire.
It took two shells to end the fight and allow the casualty to be evacuated whilst Stephen and the Forward Air Controller remained in place to cover the withdrawal.
Stephen's citation states: "He showed immense courage in his restraint and his consideration for potential civilian casualties.
"At every stage Kenny used the absolute minimum force possible and ensured all artillery rounds would fall safely."
L/Bdr Kenny said: "It's been so long since we came back from Afghanistan that I’d really forgotten about the incident so it came a big surprise to get the award but naturally I am both privileged and proud to receive it.
"I thought I was going to be in trouble when I went into the Commander’s office so it literally did come out of the blue. It's great."
The Mention in Despatches is the oldest form of recognition of gallantry within the UK Armed Forces.
The announcement was made today with the release of the latest operational honours and awards list which includes 117 personnel.
The awards are for actions roughly during the period September to March 2013 during Operation HERRICK 17.
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