Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland army medic Kylie Watson earns Military Cross

Top honour for Kylie’s act of courage under fire

By Catherine Lynagh

A British Army medic from Co Antrim has become only the fourth woman in history to be awarded the Military Cross after she put herself in “mortal danger” to treat a wounded Afghan soldier.

Lance Corporal Kylie Watson (24), from Ballymena has been hailed a “heroine” and a “shining example of what it is to be a soldier,” by her local MP.

Her dad Glen described her as “unbelievable” and said: “I think she gets her courage from her mother.”

“We're just very, very proud,” he added.

L/Cpl Watson told her family about the honour when she was home for her sister’s wedding last Thursday.

The family said Kylie is her sister’s “hero”.

Her mother, Lorna Watson, added: “I'm sure she's seen many a thing, but she'll not go into detail. We don't know where she gets her bravery from. She just takes everything in her stride.”

L/Cpl Watson was awarded the honour after she gave medical care to an Afghan soldier while under heavy Taliban fire for 20 minutes in an exposed area.

On another occasion L/Cpl Watson, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, ran 100 metres in full view of the enemy under sustained fire to give life-saving first aid to an Afghan soldier who had been shot twice in the pelvis.

Her citation read: “Watson's immense courage, willingness to put her own life at risk and absolute bravery saved the life of one warrior and acted as an inspiration to her platoon and their Afghan National Army partners.”

The 24-year-old will receive the award from the Queen later this year. Mr Watson said of his daughter: “I know what Kylie's like — Kylie could do anything. If she put her mind to it, she could do anything.

“I think Kylie just keeps it all to herself,” he said.

An Army Press spokesman said the soldier had turned down requests to do interviews.

L/Cpl Watson is one of more than 130 servicemen and women commended for bravery in the latest military honours list.

She is believed to be only the fourth woman to receive the MC, the third highest award for gallantry.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jr has described L/Cpl Watson as a “heroine”.

He said: “I would like to say how proud we are of her conduct.

“It is a huge significance for a member of the Army Medical Corps to receive this medal,” said the MP.

“I am truly thankful that she is well and her bravery is a shining example of what it is to be a soldier.”

Mr Paisley said L/Cpl Watson should definitely be included in any homecoming parade.

He added: “This story, whilst making us very proud of our armed forces, reminds us of the dangerous environment in which these brave men and women work.

“We should always remember their sacrifice in defence of democracy and salute their courage.”

Ballymena councillor John Carson, who is an ex-serviceman and represents the council on the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, said he hoped L/Cpl Watson would be honoured for her gallantry upon her return to Ballymena.

He said: “I wish to congratulate her most sincerely on her bravery.

“She is a credit to her town. This is a great honour for any soldier, even more so for a woman,” he said.

“I would like to think that she will be honoured in some way by this council when she returns,” he added.

Ballymena medic is only the fourth woman to win Military Cross

The Military Cross (MC) was created in 1914 and is the third-highest honour of gallantry awarded to the armed forces.

Kylie Watson, from Ballymena, is the fourth woman in history to be awarded the MC.

The MC is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers and other ranks of the Armed Forces .

It is granted in recognition of “an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land to all members, of any rank in Our Armed Forces”.

In receiving this prestigious award, 24-year-old Kylie Watson follows in the footsteps of three brave women.

Last year, Army medic Sarah Bushbye (26), became the third recipient after receiving the MC for treating four soldiers injured in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan.

Private Michelle Norris (then 19) was the first woman to win the MC after dodging sniper fire to save the life of a colleague during a battle situation in Iraq in 2006.

The second female recipient was Able Seaman Kate Nesbitt (then 21), who raced 70 yards to a soldier’s side as he nearly choked to death from a gunshot wound, near Lashkar Gah in Afghanistan.

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