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Nominate now for the Sun Military Awards 2013

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

There are now less than 3 weeks until nominations for this year's Sun Military Awards close.

From left: Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried and Corporal Justin Morgan [Picture: Arthur Edwards, Copyright The Sun]
Royal Marine Corporal Justin Morgan at the 2012 Sun Military Awards ceremony

The Armed Forces and the public have until the end of Monday, 9 September 2013, to nominate individuals and units for an award at this year’s Millies.

As the deadline looms, we take a look at some of last year’s winners.

Lance Corporal Hayley Ridgeway

Scooping the Life Saver Award at the 2012 ceremony, Lance Corporal Hayley Ridgeway of 1st Battalion The Rifles developed iconic status across the battalion for her commitment to the medical care of the soldiers with whom she was working.

Helen Mirren and Lance Corporal Hayley Ridgeway
Lance Corporal Hayley Ridgeway receives her award from Helen Mirren at the 2012 awards ceremony [Picture: Arthur Edwards, Copyright The Sun]

During her deployment to Afghanistan, the conditions in which Lance Corporal Ridgeway worked were particularly harsh; Checkpoint Shaparak was remote and austere. The summer temperatures were extreme and patrolling through maize crops nearly twice her height was difficult enough, let alone with nearly 50 kilograms of medical pack and protective equipment. The area she was working in had also recently turned into one of the most violent in the coalition force battlespace.

On 12 August 2011, Lance Corporal Ridgeway deployed with her patrol to Dactran. She was only 150 metres from the front gate of the checkpoint when an improvised explosive device struck the patrol, injuring 6 out of 10, including Lance Corporal Ridgeway.

The platoon commander was knocked unconscious with severe injuries in a scene of complete devastation. Lance Corporal Ridgeway pulled herself up – despite having a ball-bearing lodged in her knee – and moved straight into the blast area to make an assessment.

She attended immediately to the most injured, reviving the young platoon commander in a moment of desperate resuscitation. After he was evacuated from the area, she returned to the checkpoint having not mentioned her own injury to anyone.

In an act of extreme selflessness she prioritised other men onto a helicopter, nominating herself to remain behind. She was eventually evacuated under cover of darkness, suffering terribly from her injuries, only to be met at the hospital with the news that, despite her valiant efforts, her commander had died.

Her personal bravery during the events of 12 August 2011 was indicative of her performance and commitment.

Corporal Justin Morgan

Also recognised at last year’s Millies was Royal Marine Corporal Justin Morgan, a member of a search and rescue (SAR) team at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, who collected the Most Outstanding Sailor/Marine Award.

Corporal Justin Morgan with his award
Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried present Corporal Justin Morgan with his award [Picture: Arthur Edwards, Copyright The Sun]

On 15 August 2012 at 7:45pm, Sea King Rescue 193 was scrambled after a SAR beacon was activated by 6-metre single-handed French yacht, Raoul Pasterque, 70 miles out at sea.

The crew of Rescue 193 were presented with extreme conditions of 40-knot winds, 100-metre visibility, 40-foot swell and fading light, and, significantly, the aircraft homing equipment failed en route.

Undeterred, the SAR commander focused his crew on the situation. The observer refined the search area by triangulating the yacht’s location using an old Cold War tactical procedure – this required the pilot to fly the aircraft in an accurate ‘clover leaf’ pattern.

As the search progressed into the night, the crew donned night-vision goggles and continued into the darkness, the search time running out when the yacht was located, smashed by the sea with both sails and her boom in the water; she appeared to be without steerage or means of control and was likely to sink at any moment.

With great skill Rescue 193 manoeuvred over the top of the yacht to pass a hi-line to the sailor on board, with the pilot and observer working in harmony to maintain a hover over the pitching yacht.

Unexpectedly, the yachtsman tied it around his waist and jumped into the turbulent sea. So, without hesitation, Corporal Morgan was lowered into the water but, because of the ferocious spray and constant buffeting, he had to inflate his lifejacket to keep afloat.

Unable to get close, he pulled the casualty towards him using sheer brute force. Once in contact with the survivor he cut away the 200 metres of hi-line and they were winched into the aircraft.

This was an incredible rescue in extreme conditions with the crew reverting to basic navigation techniques which saved the life of the French yachtsman.

Nominations for the 2013 Millies will only be accepted for actions occurring in the period 1 September 2012 to 31 August 2013 and can be made via The Sun’s website at www.thesun.co.uk/millies

Published 20 August 2013