A Barnstaple soldier has been honoured after blasting his way out of a deadly Afghanistan compound laced with booby traps in order to save wounded comrades. Sergeant Frederick John Gooding of 28 Engineers Regiment is to receive a Queen s Commendation for
A Barnstaple soldier has been honoured after blasting his way out of a deadly Afghanistan compound laced with booby traps in order to save wounded comrades.
Sergeant Frederick John Gooding of 28 Engineers Regiment is to receive a Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service for his quick thinking in using explosives to clear a safe route through a maze of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices.)
The 35-year-old, known as "Jonny" to his mates, was in support of an infantry unit that had been attacked with IEDs at the dangerous town of Wishtan in Helmand province, killing and wounding a number of soldiers.
"We had been hit by an IED and knew that there were plenty more around us," said Jonny.
"We needed to get the casualties out of there so I needed to ensure the way ahead was clear."
Calling on his demolition skills, Jonny blasted a series of holes through the walls to avoid the many IEDs laid across the usual routes.
His citation stated "the positive effect on the company in knowing the professionalism and ability of this man to evacuate them for swift medical treatment cannot be overstated."
Jonny and his team of specialists were vital to the safety of troops in Helmand, primarily building bomb-proof patrol bases across this dangerous territory.
Earlier in his tour during one 36-hour construction operation, the team were attacked four times, having to stop building work to fight off the Taliban.
"We were based at a patrol base in Sangin and were building a Sanger high sentry point to make it easier to spot the enemy when we came under fire," explained Jonny who has also served in Bosnia and Iraq since joining the Army in 1991.
"There were 11 of us and as soon as the attack began I told everyone to get down, while I climbed up the Sanger to return fire. "Just as I got my sites on him I saw him launch a rocket propelled grenade in my direction.
"It was like something out of a movie to see an RPG flying towards you. It passed just a meter above my head and exploded somewhere behind me.
"It all happened so quickly I didn't have a chance to get scared, I just fell back on my training and continued to return fire and tell my team to keep their heads down."
Jonny lives in Barnstaple with his family, wife Natasha and children Callum, 13 and Summer, 11.
"I'm over the moon to receive this award," he said.
"I didn't expect that I would be up for anything. I love being out in the field with the guys - who this award is also for.
"When I was told I was absolutely gob-smacked - speechless. I am happy to be home with my family who are all really proud of me. I couldn't have achieved what I did in Afghanistan without the back up of my wife and kids.