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Maidstone soldier Sapper James McDermott of 36 Engineer Regiment honoured for risking his life to save others on frontline

21 March 2014

A Maidstone soldier has been recognised for his selfless actions to save the lives of two other servicemen caught in open fire.

Sapper James McDermott, of the town’s 36 Engineer Regiment, off Royal Engineers Road, was deployed on his first tour of the front line as a searcher and medic with a bomb disposal team.

The 20-year-old, who is part of the Corps of Royal Engineers, was sent to scour a key route with the Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP), after they received reports of suspected tunnelling.

Sapper James McDermott. Picture credit Corporal Si Longworth RLC

Sapper James McDermott. Picture credit: Corporal Si Longworth RLC

The team was about to head back to base after giving the area the all clear, when they came under attack from at least eight directions.

The patrol commander and an Afghan soldier were both shot.

In a brave act, Spr McDermott ran over open ground to provide first aid to the struck commander, before carrying him to safety behind a Mastiff army vehicle, with the help of another colleague.

Still in full sight of enemy fighters, the searcher ran more than 30 metres to the Afghan police soldier, who had been shot in the thigh and was bleeding badly.

Despite being under attack, Spr McDermott treated the casualty and then carried him over his shoulder, back across open ground, to another truck. He applied further treatment, which officials say undoubtedly saved his life. 

Troops from the 36 Engineer Regiment. Library picture

Troops from the 36 Engineer Regiment. Library picture

Spr McDermott was one of 117 members of personnel to be mentioned on this year’s Operational Honours and Awards List.

He was presented with a Mention in Despatches - the oldest form of recognition of gallantry within the UK Armed Forces.

The serviceman, of Llandudno in North Wales, said: “It’s nice to be recognised. My folks are very proud, they were dying to tell everyone but they couldn’t, of course.

“I’d been there a few months and had a few pot shots at me but nothing like this. It was pretty intense.”

“It’s nice to be recognised. My folks are very proud, they were dying to tell everyone but they couldn’t, of course" - Spr McDermott

His citation states: “A young soldier on his first operational tour, McDermott demonstrated impressive premeditated gallantry in twice braving enemy fire to go the aid of a British and Afghan comrade.

“Having seen the effects of the enemy fire he would have been in no doubt that he too was in significant risk of being wounded or killed as he moved through the open ground to reach the casualties.

"His quick thinking and applications of first-aid training prevented further injury to his Commander and save his Afghan comrade.”

The awards were given for actions demonstrated during March and September last year, during Operation HERRICK 18.

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