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SOLDIER RISKED DEATH SAVING HIS PAL; Hero honoured for river rescue.

Byline: DAVE ROBSON and MIKE BLACKBURN

A SOLDIER who ditched his body armour to carry a stricken comrade across a swollen Afghan river has been given one of our country's highest bravery awards.

Private Lewis Murphy carried his colleague through 20 metres of thick mud and water.

Today, the 24-year-old Middlesbrough soldier's courage is recognised with the award of the Queen's Commendation for Bravery (QCB). The citation says he "displayed the highest levels of leadership and bravery under immense danger." And his mum Alison admitted: "I'm an extremely proud mother today." PteMurphy, of the Yorkshire Regiment, was part of a team tasked with finding four insurgents who had abducted an Afghan police officer. Following them across the Helmand River into horrendous terrain, night fell as they continued their progress. But suddenly, the insurgents opened fire with machine guns. A hail of bullets struck two soldiers, with one suffering a serious gunshot wound to the neck and another having a lucky escape as a round struck his body armour. The platoon's commander was also hit in the leg. Pte Murphy, a former Acklam Grange School pupil, recalled: "At first, I didn't know how serious it was but when you realise there are casualties, everything changes. "I was in the swamp and couldn't see the enemy. My first reaction was to get my sight up to look for them." With the soldier shot in the neck critically injured, a medical helicopter was called and a landing site identified. But between the soldiers and the helicopter was a chest-height river. And realising carrying a stretcher across it was impractical, Pte Murphy made an amazingly brave decision. Removing his own body armour and helmet, he put his comrade on his back and began to wade through the mud and water. He recalled: "It was instinctive. I didn't think about the danger of it - I just thought if I leave my

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BRAVE: Private Lewis Murphy removed his body armour so he could carry a wounded pal across an Afghan river to safety
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Title Annotation:News; Front Page
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Mar 22, 2013
Words:339
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