A British soldier who saved 30 members of his unit from an ambush in Iraq has been awarded the first Victoria Cross for more than 20 years.
Private Johnson Beharry, 25, of the 1st Battalion the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, twice saved the lives of colleagues while under enemy fire.
He is still recovering from head injuries caused by a rocket-propelled grenade attack on his vehicle in which he managed to guide the vehicle to safety despite his wounds.
Pte Beharry is one of 140 soldiers awarded honours for roles in Iraq, Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland and Africa.
Send us your tributes to Pte Beharry and his colleagues.
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we received:
I am working with street children and when I first heard of this award going to a private I could not think of a better role model to bring to our children on the streets who need courage to meet their lives. Thank you Pte Beharry for your courage and inspiration.
Sister Jean Pruitt, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
A well deserved award having read the citation. My Great Uncle Hugh fought alongside John Kenneally V.C. with The Irish Guards in WW2 and I know what it takes to be given this award and words can't express how these very brave individuals win these gallantry awards. In closing Private Beharry's life will now change for ever as he joins the ranks of The Victoria & George Cross Association.
Frank O'Neill, Aylesbury Buckinghamshire
I am so thankful for this brave soldier and for the others like him who are putting their lives at risk for me and my family. Thanks to all of the British who support the war against terror, and especially thanks to Tony Blair. He is a true statesman and leader.
Jon, San Diego, USA
I'm proud I can call myself a countryman of Pte. Beharry. He shows we still have the finest soldiers in the world. Well done lad!
Andy Young, Wallington, Surrey
Congratulations to Mr Beharry - if ever someone has deserved a medal he clearly has. But I am utterly unable to understand why he is still a private - surely if a guy deserves a VC he deserves a promotion and the corresponding pay rise!
Ron Gerard, London
Finally, a young man who our youngsters can really look up to - a true hero. Well done Pte Beharry, your country is proud of you.
Gavin, Brent Knoll, England
An amazing story and an amazing selfless individual! Pte Beharry truly is a credit to his uniform and to the nation, in addition to being a superb role-model for youngsters. Well deserved congratulations. I salute you!
Dan Howe, Bristol, UK
Why can't people just take this award for what it is. This man carried out an outstanding act of bravery and self preservation whilst under heavy enemy fire, not once, but twice. Stop belittling his bravery with cynicism about the government or race he is a role model, not just for minority groups but for all of us. Unreserved congratulations to him for both his bravery and his gallantry.
Robin Miller, London, UK
Hats off to Private Johnson Beharry. You really make Britain proud, a perfect example to all. May others follow your example.
Pte Johnson Beharry is very brave and a credit to this country - a great role model for the youth of today. Well done on receiving the Victoria Cross - very justly deserved.
Brenda Stewart, Leeds, England
Congratulations to Private Johnson Beharry. You showed the utmost courage and bravery. You thoroughly deserve the Victoria Cross.
Private Beharry is to be wholeheartedly congratulated for his bravery, as are all our members of the armed forces who are prepared to give their lives as the ultimate sacrifice. Those who are making cynical or snide comments on these pages are just cowards and probably the most dangerous thing they do is cross the road. For Private Beharry, the sword is mightier than the pen!
Andrew Lye, Haverfordwest, Wales
I read your citation and I salute your bravery. It appears that many soldiers owe their life to you. God bless you and get well soon.
Mark Williams, Waltham, USA
Our armed forces are something to be proud of and British heroes like Pte Beharry give us all something to look up to. He is the ultimate role model, we should pay attention to this and not only be proud and support him, but be proud and support all our soldiers serving abroad. All of whom are doing a fantastic job.
Congratulations to Pte Beharry. It's great to hear the story of a true hero. You're a great credit to our country. Those people out there trying to belittle what Pte Beharry has done should be ashamed of themselves. I would like to see them do the same thing if they were in a similar situation!
Emma, Peterborough, UK
Congratulations to all that received awards, but also, my congratulations and thanks go out to all the people in the armed forces that have not received rewards - just because you did not receive a piece of silver on a ribbon does not make the job you all do any less valuable and worthwhile. Thank you.
Dave, Luton, UK
Courage of this magnitude should never go unnoticed.
Nicholas Plotnek, Birmingham, England
At last, someone that truly deserves an award and recognition for something outstanding. Makes all these Oscars, Baftas, Brits and other garbage look totally insignificant (which they are)! Well done Johnson!
John Warrington, Buntingford, UK
Although we have the best trained and best motivated military in the world, Private Johnson Beharry's actions are particularly conspicuous in their valour. He sets an example to the people of Great Britain with his courage, his resilience, his generosity of spirit and his desire to complete do his job regardless. People like him underline the fact that we are a great nation who should be proud and supportive of our country both in matters of war and peace. When a story like this comes along it reminds you that Great Britain hasn't been totally reduced to a shower of whimpering malcontents cowering behind their copies of the Guardian.
Stuart Bell, Shetland UK
This is an example to all those critics of soldiers - the one thing it teaches you is how to protect yourself and others - the people he saved will never forget his bravery and what he did for them - I hope he is an inspiration for all
It's acts of heroism such as this that makes me proud to be British. Congratulations.
David, Highlands, Scotland
A true hero. Puts the deeds of Beckham and other wannabe football heroes in perspective.
David Farrant, London
What a star! As an army wife myself I wish to congratulate not only Private Beharry, but his wife also.
Caroline, Bristol, Avon
Very well done, Pte Beharry and colleagues. Your courage is a credit to yourselves, your unit, your regiment and the Army. It also shows that Army training delivers the goods - never mind what the PC brigade want.
Peter, Welwyn, England
What a lovely guy and this news article was a pleasant change from the usual 'downer on the army' stories. Well done Private Beharry!
Shirley King, Coventry, Warwickshire
You are the living proof that real heroes still exist. It's a privilege to know that there are still people like you around . You are a real inspiration to all of us. Thank you!
Catherine Thibaut-Berry, London
Some great PR for the Army and about time too. There have been too many critics about Iraq and the excellent job our forces are doing. VCs are not given out will-nilly so his action will have been fairly heroic. A great role model for black youth.
Jonathan, Chesterfield, UK
Well done that man! I wonder who will play your part in the movie!!
David, Cornwall, UK
I happened upon this on the internet. I was especially moved. I know how the British reluctantly prize the issue of the Victoria Cross, "For Valour." What moves me most in this story-as in any war story-is Private Beharry's "super" human behaviour that arose from his concern for his fellow soldiers. I hope we all get out of Iraq soon. His story only confirms our potential as a species if we show the capacity for selflessness that Private Beharry showed in Iraq.
Kevin Burke, Batavia, Ohio, USA
Great, amazing, wonderful. He is an example of what we can aspire to. If such human potential for self-less action was promoted in peace-time, if we could learn that we are not alone and we are all connected and dependant on each other, not just in extreme situations - we would have no need of war to give us meaning and enhance our ability to rise above the 'norm' and beyond the limited parameters we have set ourselves.
Congratulations to Private Beharry ! I truly admire him for what he has done for his fellow soldiers.
Henry Farber, Chambersburg , USA
VC recipients are in a class of their own, and this incredibly brave soldier thoroughly deserves to be in honoured in this way.
Alexander, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Guys, let's just get this into perspective:
1.Pte Beharry has put his life on the line by going to Iraq as a soldier, which is more than many of us can claim to have done. (I somehow doubt he has done this for selfish reasons.)
2. Regardless of exactly how Pte Beharry extricated himself from these fire fights, the result was that he saved lives. Does this action not justify the rewarding of a Victoria Cross?
So let's just keep our cynicism where it belongs, in the political forum, and have the morality to reward courage wherever it presents itself.
Phil Holden-Rushworth, Worcester, England.
A true hero in every sense of the word. How awe inspiring it is to the majority of us that someone can be so brave whilst defending our liberty and freedoms. I just wish that the media would focus on heroes like this a little more often as opposed to the continued odious pursuit of celebrity gossip.
Ed H, UK
As a Black Englishman of West Indian origin ( Guyanese), I'm very proud of Pt Beharry, It makes a change to see a positive image of our armed forces and of black people in our media.
Rupert, Basildon UK
I am pleased that PTE Beharry has been recognised for the loyalty that he displayed towards his fellow soldiers. Maybe now people will also recognise that there are other Regiments with fine soldiers, other than the Paras.
Carl Potts, Penrith
Well done son, without a doubt in the finest tradition of the British Army. I'm sure the biggest honour for you is the undying gratitude of your comrades whose lives you gallantly saved.
John Duncan, Newtongrange, Midlothian
A tribute to our country, an amazingly courageous and dedicated professional soldier. His medal is more than deserved, and yes there are probably others who are deserving, but this seems a very special case. All the best for your recovery, and stop being so modest.
This is one real occasion when the word hero is used correctly, Not to describe someone who won a medal in the Olympics, or other trivial instances.
Lester Stenner, UK
To be wounded, and still battle on to rescue that number of colleagues is just amazing!
Scott Spackman, Aberchirder, Aberdeenshire
I loathe the US/UK war in Iraq and the potential illegality of the action but I certainly don't blame the soldiers, they are doing their job. I wanted to send warm greetings and congratulations to Pte Beharry on receiving the VC. Hearing the story he certainly deserves it. What a good news story for the British army when it continues to struggle against racism within its ranks. Give this lad a commission, he is a credit to the army and reminds us that black people despite the odds are protecting this nation.
L Dixon, Chester, Cheshire
Pity some posters can not pay a tribute to Private Beharry without including pompous anti-racist comments. This splendid young soldier does not share their hang-ups.
Ken, England UK
Amazing, congratulations Mr Beharry we are very lucky to have you and your colleagues defending us.
Lewie, Welling, Kent
Having read John Smith of Dorset's comments I am shocked to say the least of this man's cynicism. Private Beharry risked his own life on two occasions to save his colleagues lives, how can that be self-preservation. When he was badly injured with the head wound he saved a man's life. We should be praising this man not knocking his bravery.
Jan , Stockton
Courage is doing what is right in the face of fear, and what Pte Beharry has done is the very definition of Courage. Well done, you are a true hero.
Warm congratulations on achieving the highest military honour in the country. Your courage and heroism is superb tribute to you and your colleagues who were doing an extremely difficult job in horrific circumstances. You set a fantastic example to everyone in society of determination, quick thinking and tenacity. I hope you recover from your injuries very soon.
Simon Sanderson, Thames Ditton
A truly remarkable man! But let us not forget the other members of our armed forces who are also serving in a war zone. Just being there deserves a medal in my book.
Andy G.M. Wood, UK (London)
I was reeling as I read the commendation; his bravery just went on and on. If I had done a tenth of what he did I would have wanted a VC! To think some people would not have welcomed him in this country.
Nana Bello, London, England
A credit to the country and his family, putting his life before that of others a true hero well done.
David Tommis, Wilmslow
'A foreigner who came over here and took one of our jobs', I hear someone cry. For that I truly thank him. He is a credit to Grenada, the British Armed Forces and his regiment, a true hero.
Clive Adams, Hampshire, UK
Well done, Pte. Beharry! What more can one say?
Patricia Finnegan, Syracuse, New York, USA
Well done Private Beharry. This is one of the reasons that we should be extremely proud of our armed forces.
James D , Birmingham, UK
Outstanding bravery, wishing you a full recovery.
Peter Heatlie, Sunderland, England
To those who have posted cynical comments - just read the citation and take it at face value. This is a real hero who carried out the ultimate selfless act. It is people like Private Beharry that give you the freedom of speech, however nauseating your comments may be for the vast majority of us.
Frank Nash, Warwick
Astonishing courage and bravery that is justifiably rewarded by the highest honour. However, I wonder how many of the misguided anti-immigrant (read racist) tabloid readers would have supported this brave young man if it had not been for his selfless acts?
Dennis, Walney Island UK
To John Smith, Dorset: Regardless of what you think of his other acts, pulling colleagues to safety from a burning vehicle whilst injured himself, is clearly an act of bravery unmotivated by self-preservation. For that act alone Private Beharry deserves commendation. Taken as a whole his actions make words like gallantry, valour and bravery seem inadequate.
Sam, Bristol, UK
He is a role model indeed. As a member of ethnic minority myself, I urge others to follow him; don't forget his bravery! Accusing others of racism should not be the first and easy option to cover up our inability. I am very proud of Pte Beharry.
N Elanko, New Malden UK
Gallantry in the highest tradition of the British Army. Pte Beharry's actions and award reminds us that within the UK's armed forces are the bravest and best in the world. The award of 6 military medals today should not be forgotten either, brave are all.
Christopher Linthwaite, Beverley, England
This man deserves to be heralded as a hero, along with most of the UK forces, who seem to be holding out honourably in a hostile environment. However, I question to timing of handing out this very prestigious honour. Could it be linked to the fact that the UK public actually need some good news from Iraq after a scandalous few months? Is it all part of the government propaganda machine? I may be cynical but I bet am not the only person to suspect this.
Chris Natthans, Manchester, UK
Congratulations Private Johnson! I commend your valiant efforts. I hope you and your colleagues will soon be safe at home in Great Britain. I support you all even though I believe that the US/British war unjustifiable. Peace to you.
Joe Fitzgerald, Dallas, Texas, USA
Congratulations Private Beharry! You are a shining example to us all. When most of the news reports on our forces seems to be bad it is great to hear news like yours.
If the events described in the citation which Private Beharry went through were portrayed in a film, they would be dismissed as Hollywood hype! It is such an outstanding achievement - a display of unquestionable valour, bravery and fortitude that deserves every ounce of praise and recognition. I hope this is pronounced loud and clear to the world to show what the human spirit can do and how the British army still excels.
Marc, Manchester, UK
An outstanding achievement, I hope Private Beharry's actions are noted by those opposed to immigrants coming to our country. After just one year in our country he joined the army and now receives the highest honour our military can bestow. We could use a lot more people like him in the UK.
Jamie Reeves, Hounslow, UK
Well done! How great to know there are people like you, in great danger and still thinking of your fellow soldiers before your own safety.
Susan King, Leighton Buzzard, England
Congratulations young man, you are a magnificent credit to your family and your country. May God bless you and all our other brave armed forces personnel
Wow - such acts of courage and honour are seldom seen today, a well deserved tribute.
The government, in particular Geoff Hoon, are not worthy to shake the hand of a true hero like Johnson Beharry. His bravery put into perspective those cowardly deeds taken by the government and its mealy-mouthed ministers. If Johnson Beharry were Armed Forces Minister I wonder what changes he would make. I am pretty certain they would be to upgrade the standing of the forces in society. We ask everything from the brave heroes and give them nothing in return. £20,000 a year for laying your life down for the country and comrades is nothing.
Nigel, Copthorne, England
Irrespective of any political motivation for the timing of the award's announcement, I defy anybody to say that his repeated, selfless courage under fire does not meet those highest of standards required for a VC. This wasn't a case of a junior soldier muddling through a hostile situation. Pte Beharry repeatedly made difficult decisions, putting his colleagues interests before his own.
Jamie, Wendover, UK
Wonderful news, a lovely brave man. Hope he recovers fully and has a long and happy life.
June Clark, Rainham, Kent, UK
How refreshing to hear a genuine tale of heroism. Pte Beharry has brought honour on himself and his regiment and rightly deserves to be recognised for his courage.
Justin Randall, Hampshire
Give me a break, when you get behind the Hollywood language, what he did on each occasion was drive his vehicle out of an ambush where they were getting shot to pieces. That's self-preservation, not heroism. This is a cynical piece of army propaganda to present a black face in uniform to the public in order to gloss over the institutional racism which riddles our Armed Forces.
John Smith, Dorset
Outstanding, sincere and heartfelt congratulations from all on board. We will toast your bravery at our next port call.
Subsea 7 Crew on board DSND Surveyor, Offshore Indonesia
Congratulations to Pte Beharry, it is people like you that should and do make us proud of our armed forces and of our great nation.
Andy, Manchester, UK
I really don't want to take away anything from these people, but I can't help feeling (cynic that I am) that there's something political behind so many medals being given out all at the same time.
Dave Godfrey, Swindon, UK
In these times, when the majority of immigrants to this country are unfairly derided, this brave soldier's actions is an ultimate example of why we should give a positive focus on their contributions to the country.
Caspar Powell, Portsmouth, UK
He and his family should be very proud of his bravery. He's an example to all.
Lynn, Derbyshire, UK
I hope Pte Beharry fully recovers from his wounds; through his very brave actions, he has done us all very proud. His family must be extremely proud of him; well done.
Gary Paul Russell, Peterborough, England
Reading the full commendation, I am amazed by the bravery of Private Beharry and think the VC well earned. He is a credit to the wonderful island of Grenada and to the UK. Just one question: Why is he still a Private? With leadership qualities like this he would be an asset to the army in the highest positions.
Helen , Brighton, UK
He (and all our other troops) makes me proud to be British. I wish I had an ounce of his courage. What a pity he was sent there in the first place.
In a selfish world it is moving and uplifting to learn about someone who carried out the most unselfish act.
Mary McCannon, Budapest, Hungary
Congratulations Private Beharry! The rights or wrongs of this war are irrelevant - I am in awe of your bravery.
Steve, London, UK
Amongst the political fest of propaganda and justification for war it is refreshing to see soldiers who risk everything acknowledged with the highest honour. Whilst a minute group of soldiers can attract and absorb the headlines by accusations of abuse, let's not forget the people who perform acts of bravery most of us could never comprehend.
Matthew Higgins, UK
A brave soul who put the lives of others over his own. This sort of bravery shows there are really good people in this world who believe in the adage sacrifice before self and who should be shining examples in civics books at secondary schools.
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium
Whether you agree with the Iraq conflict or not, after reading the citation of this brave man you can only be in awe of the bravery shown for Queen and country by him and all the other soldiers.
Graham, Warwick, UK
Congratulations to Private Beharry for his remarkable courage and achievement. Interesting, though, that the story was released on the same day that the MoD is facing severe criticism for it's failures in procurement issues. Coincidental, or a cynical attempt to use a positive story to deflect attention from a negative one?
Chris Rogers, East Kilbride
This medal, thoroughly deserved, just goes to remind everybody of the sacrifice that our armed forces put themselves through for our sake - remember "ours is not to reason why, ours is just to do and die" - they are all volunteers, and thank you to them all - I know I sleep much easier at night knowing that there are men and women like Pte Beharry defending me!
David, Dunlop, Ayrshire, UK
Beharry's heroism and grit to continue in the face of mortal danger is a true example of actions that merit the Victoria Cross. His tale will stand tall with those displayed in the Imperial War Museum
Steve Randall, Westbury, Wilts
I think it's superb news. Makes a change from the constant bashing the armed forces seem to be getting these days.
Robin, Birmingham, UK
I have the greatest admiration for his courage - because I know if I ever found myself in a similar situation I would run a mile!
Andrew Thomas, Swansea, Wales
I don't want to belittle what Private Beharry did, but it seems a little suspicious to present this very rarely awarded honour to him during the run up to an election. Is it an attempt by the government to legitimise the unpopular Iraq War?
Mark Malik, Teesside, UK
A truly, brilliant heroic, brave and selfless action.
This is what we want people to think of when they speak about British soldiers. People willing to ignore their own safety to keep other people from harm.
Simon Watson, Cambridge, UK
Despite what people might think of the rights and wrongs of the war, this soldier deserves all the respect and recognition that goes with a VC. His bravery and that of countless others serves as an example to us all of selfless devotion to duty and the welfare of others, before thinking of our own safety.
Jerry, Basingstoke, UK
The world should applaud Johnson's bravery. He well deserved the award and saved the lives of his colleagues. A good role model for our armed forces.
Congratulations. How nice to hear of some pleasant news for a change. How unselfish of you to risk your life for others, despite your injuries. Good luck to you and may you have a complete recovery from your injuries and enjoy a long, healthy and peaceful life
Margaret Lawrence, Newport, South Wales
He brings honour to the country as well as himself by these acts of bravery rightly rewarded. Best wishes for his recovery.
Daniel Slaney, Nottingham
In a world of phoney, overpaid, loutish sports 'heroes', Johnson Beharry's VC shows the true meaning of selfless courage, and is a credit to the country.
John, London UK
What an amazing man and so modest. It seems that real heroes very often are. He is also a great role model for young people and those from ethnic backgrounds. It also good that he has been the recognition that he so rightly deserves.
Chris Parker, Buckingham