December 12 2013 Latest news:
Friday, October 4, 2013
An Army bomb disposal expert whose courage saved the lives of seven of his comrades has been awarded a medal for bravery.
Carver Barracks-based Warrant Officer Andreas ‘Andy’ Peat, of 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), received the George Medal after risking his own life to prevent a dire situation becoming a disaster.
A high threat explosives ordnance disposal operator serving in Afghanistan, WO Peat was deployed on a planned search of a suspected homemade explosives factory with a Danish unit and Afghan partners.
Unknown to the troops, the building, in the vicinity of Checkpoint Pan Kalay, had been extensively mined by insurgents.
In the dark, one of the Danish soldiers stepped on a concealed Improvised Explosive Device (IED), causing amputations and other severe injuries which later proved fatal.
WO Peat, from Edinburgh, immediately took control of the situation with calmness and clarity to prevent further casualties.
The 39-year-old, who has a daughter, aged three, said: “I was looking at him as he initiated the device. I was knocked to the ground by the blast.
“When that happens, in my role, you become responsible for everyone there. There were 10 of us in a small area. And I needed to make sure we got to the soldier who was down as quickly as possible and to prevent any further injuries.”
He added: “I was aware that there was a potential threat from insurgents and further devices. In those circumstances you remain focussed, prioritise and work logically.
“It is hard to suppress your emotions, knowing someone has been gravely injured. Your first instinct is to run to them and do everything you can to help but if you do that, you could make things a lot worse.”
Realising there were probably more devices, WO Peat urged the two surviving Danish soldiers and five Afghan warriors to remain still.
He then moved the injured man, being attended to by a colleague, and discovered a wire underneath the casualty which he traced to a second concealed IED.
WO Peat manually disarmed it and cleared an area to allow the casualty to be evacuated.
Due to the likely presence of more devices, the injured soldier had to be lowered back down a ladder close to the IED.
In an act of real bravery, WO Peat used his own body to shield the main charge in order to prevent inadvertent contact by the bearer party. He then turned his attention to the other members of the assault group.
After guiding the first two off the roof of the building he returned to find one of the remaining warriors kneeling over a pressure plate in the doorway. The Afghan was in a state of shock and beset with cramp.
WO Peat knew there was an immediate and grave risk to life and had to act fast. He searched by fingertip and disabled the switch.
He then guided the individual and remaining Afghan warriors off the roof. Remarkably, he also had the presence of mind to recover the battery pack and wire from the first device for later forensic examination.
Asked how his family feels about the nature of his job, WO Peat said: “The last thing I want is for my daughter to lose her dad and my wife to be widowed.
“I enjoy my job, am good at it and it saves lives. We get fantastic training and there are operatives like me throughout the services who do things like this on a regular basis.”
His citation for a bravery award stated: “Although A Danish serviceman was fatally injured, the calm, determined actions and bravery demonstrated by Peat without doubt prevented further casualties and death to both Afghans and Danish alike.
“The commander on the ground is adamant that Peat protected seven lives that night. At no time did Peat show regard to his own safety and his selfless actions are tribute to a truly professional soldier.”
The George Medal is awarded for acts of great bravery not in the face of the enemy. It was created in 1940 and is one of the second highest tier of military award.
The announcement was made today (Friday) with the release of the latest operational honours and awards list which includes 117 personnel.