'Scary' birthday for Afghan hero
Published 02/07/2010 | 15:12
A soldier who helped a family to safety after they became caught up in a firefight in Afghanistan has said that receiving the Military Cross was "nearly, but not quite" as daunting as being in a war zone.
Lance Sergeant Matthew Turrall, of the Irish Guards, was treated to an unusual birthday present as he was handed the prestigious award by the Princess Royal at Buckingham Palace on his 29th birthday.
L/Sgt Turrall, from Manchester, helped an Afghan man and his four children to safety after their car got caught in the crossfire of an insurgent attack near the town of Lashkar Gah in May last year.
He said: "It's amazing, it's quite daunting, but not quite as daunting as being in a war zone. But it was quite scary all the same."
The father of two said his bravery was not something for which he set out to get an award.
"I've got children myself so it was just a reaction. I saw those kids screaming and crying and just had to help them," he said.
His mother, Joy, 52, said she was extremely proud of her son's bravery: "I'm quite naive, I don't ask too much about what happens out there, that's my way of coping.
"But it must have been awful, I'm just so proud of him."
L/Sgt Turrall was one of three British soldiers awarded the prestigious medal on Friday for their bravery in Afghanistan.
Captain Rowley Gregg, from the Light Dragoons, and Corporal Paul Mather, from the Army Air Corps, were also presented with the Military Cross.