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Soldier honoured for helping friend

A young soldier who helped to save his friend who had been shot in the neck by an Afghan insurgent is among more than 100 members of the armed forces recognised in the latest round of military honours.

Some 117 people from all three services are included in the latest Operational Honours list, published in the London Gazette.

They include Lance Corporal Wes Masters, 25, from The Royal Army Medical Corps, who is awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry and courage in assisting a comrade who was wounded during a dawn firefight with Taliban insurgents.

L/Cpl Masters, then a private, landed along with his troop by helicopter to conquer an enemy base.

As the troop began to search for targets, L/Cpl Masters' detachment came under fire and one of the group's number, L/Cpl Simon Moloney, 23, was shot through the neck by a Taliban sharpshooter.

Without waiting for orders, L/Cpl Masters crossed 300 metres of open ground under heavy fire while carrying 60kgs of equipment to reach his fallen friend.

L/Cpl Moloney said: "At approximately 6.20am I sustained a gunshot wound to the neck and it just went on from there.

"I called it in for a medic not really thinking that it would happen but he managed to get there through fire very soon.

"He got there within two minutes."

Despite LCpl Moloney having suffered a rare and complicated injury, LCpl Masters was able to stabilise him to the point that he was able to rejoin the now raging gun battle.

LCpl Moloney, of the Blues and Royals, added: "I was still conscious.

"The two of us had to crack on.

"They were pushing quite hard so it was either maybe die or definitely die because they would have overrun us.

"As soon as Wes came I was completely at ease - I was quite happy then, that I was going to survive and that he had it in the bag."

LCpl Moloney receives a Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for his gallantry and skill in the face of the enemy.

LCpl Moloney confesses that he down-played the injury when he told his mother back home in St Albans.

He said: "I didn't want to scare her so I said I'd hurt my neck.

"She obviously knew you don't just hurt your neck in Afghanistan.

"Once I'd come home and she saw that I was alright and in good health she was a bit better."

As for LCpl Masters' quick decision to help him on the battlefield, LCpl Moloney admits that it could prove expensive.

He said: "I owe him one now.

"It's my round every time."

Along with LCpl Moloney and LCpl Masters, servicemen and women recognised in today's honours include L/Cpl Sinead Dodds, who receives the Queen's Commendation for Bravery after she helped free her commander who was trapped when the armoured vehicle they were travelling in was hit by an IED in Afghanistan.

Chief Petty Officer Neil Halsey, from the Royal Navy, also receives a Queen's Commendation for Bravery for his outstanding leadership of the team that prevented the sinking of a stricken tug and the release of 200 tonnes of diesel into the waters off the south Devon coast.

But most of the serviceman and women receive honours for their work in Afghanistan.

Announcing the awards, Commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Lieutenant General Tim Evans said: "We remember the bravery and the sacrifice 117 servicemen and women who have been recommended to receive the award have now had their citations approved by Her Majesty the Queen.

"On operations our servicemen and women face dangers, real dangers, and they do so in the full knowledge of the risk.

"And often in very arduous conditions, none more so than in Afghanistan.

"I take this opportunity to pay publicly tribute to all of them - all of those who are receiving citations in the next few days."

Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said: "The service personnel recognised have displayed outstanding acts of bravery and courage.

"Working in the most challenging and dangerous of conditions, their commitment to each other, the mission and the protection of our national security has not faltered.

"We are forever indebted to the selfless sacrifices made by our service personnel and their families, and this should never be forgotten."

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