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Top bravery award for Kent soldier

PTE RYAN COPPING: a family celebration awaits when he returns from Germany
PTE RYAN COPPING: a family celebration awaits when he returns from Germany

A SOLDIER from Kent is to be awarded the Military Cross for bravery under enemy fire in Iraq.

Pte Ryan Copping, a member of the Canterbury-based 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment whose mother lives in Folkestone, will receive his medal at Buckingham Palace next year.

The 21-year-old was driving his Warrior armoured vehicle at the head of his platoon in Basra on July 18.

They were on a search and arrest mission, but as his vehicle entered the city, it came under heavy attack from rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire.

It seemed the onslaught was coming from nearby flats, but vision inside a Warrior is poor, and Pte Copping opened his hatch to find the source of the raid and help his gunner focus on the enemy.

The citation says he put his life on the line by keeping his head out of the hatch and his eyes trained on the target despite intense machine gun fire and with total disregard for his own safety.

At her home in Grimston Gardens, Folkestone, Pte Copping’s mother, Ginni, said she was thrilled when she heard the news and promised a family celebration when he returns from his base in Paderborn, Germany.

She stressed: “All the members of his family are very proud."

It’s no surprise that the armed services beckoned Pte Copping. Both his parents were in the RAF – although his initial career was very different. He was a hairdresser at the Cantebury salon, Toni and Guy.

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