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Nursing officer in Afghanistan wins military honour.

Byline: By Emma Brady Health Correspondent

A Birmingham medic who worked in the only British forces-run field hospital in Afghanistan yesterday admitted he was "surprised and shocked" to be honoured "for doing my job".

Lieutenant Frank Kelly, who has completed six tours of duty with the Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service, will receive the Associate Royal Red Cross later this year.

The 38-year-old nursing officer, who lives in Bournville with his wife and two children, saw dozens of "horrific injuries" while he ran the A&E department of the field hospital at Camp Bastion, in Helmand province, from October 2006 to last January.

The unit, run with the 3 Commando, regularly dealt with multiple casualties, including civilians as well as coalition and British military personnel. Lt Kelly, who is based at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak Hospital, added some of the worst sights were young children injured in attacks.

"One of the worst I saw was a young boy, he was a baker's son, but when the shop was bombed he suffered 70 per cent burns. It was truly horrific, and he didn't make it," he said.

"We saw a lot of gunshot wounds, civilian and military casualties, as well as those injured in explosions.

"During the last week of the tour we saw 14 casualties from two separate incidents, which really tested the team. The first admissions were injured badly in a gun battle at very close quarters, and the second was from a road accident involving coalition forces from another province.

"Because we were the only British field hospital out there, we invariably saw the worst cases being brought in to us."

A relatively small team of six nurses and eight medics staffed the field hospital, who Lt Kelly praised for delivering "phenomenal levels of care in testing conditions".

The Ministry of Defence citation for the father-of-two, who joined the Navy in 1994, states: "He led his staff from the front at all times, never daunted by the number of casualties or the severity of their injuries."

But Lt Kelly added: "This came as a massive surprise to me when I heard about the awards.

"I only picked the letter up from the Post Office today, but I had been briefed by my commandant earlier in the week.

"It is an absolute honour, however unexpected, to be awarded something like this and I have to say it's for the team I worked with really."

A date for the Buckingham Palace ceremony has yet to be set.

CAPTION(S):

Lieutenant Frank Kelly: Surprised and shocked to be honoured 'for doing my job'
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 21, 2007
Words:438
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