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'Brave' Army dog handler honoured

An Army explosives sniffer dog handler who saved "countless" lives by uncovering deadly Taliban roadside bombs in Afghanistan has been awarded an MBE.

Sergeant Kaye Wilson, 35, was honoured for her "unwavering bravery" in searching for hidden improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on the frontline in Helmand Province.

She and her dog Obama, a two-and-a-half-year-old Belgian Shepherd Malinois, were deployed to the most dangerous areas as part of a high-risk IED search team.

The Royal Army Veterinary Corps soldier, from Shrewsbury, said it was "amazing" to receive the MBE and joked she would share it with Obama, adding: "It's a team effort. I feel very humbled."

Sgt Wilson paid tribute to her comrade Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, 26, from Tayport in Fife, who is awarded a posthumous Mention in Despatches after being shot dead in Helmand in March.

Sgt Wilson said: "We are all very close, so what happened affected everyone. Unfortunately jobs have to be done and we all had to carry on."

A total of 140 servicemen and women - most of whom served with 16 Air Assault Brigade in Afghanistan between October last year and April - were awarded honours.

Two other soldiers were recognised posthumously, with a prestigious George Medal going to Private Martin Bell, 24, from Bradford, of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, who died in Helmand in January after disobeying a direct order and going to provide urgent first aid to a wounded friend.

There was also a Mention in Despatches for Territorial Army Private Conrad Lewis, 22, from Bournemouth, of 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment, who was killed along with a comrade by a single shot from a Taliban sniper in February.

General Sir Nick Parker, commander-in-chief land forces, paid tribute to the honours recipients at a ceremony at Wellington Barracks in London. He said: "I remain absolutely in awe of what they have done. Some are very young and some now represent role models for their generation."

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