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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 22:57 GMT
National celebration for VC hero
Pte Johnson Beharry (left) and Grenadian Prime Minister Keith Mitchell
Prime Minister Mitchell said Private Beharry was 'inspirational'
A Grenada-born soldier who was awarded the Victoria Cross is to have a day of celebration in his home country.

Private Johnson Beharry, 25, of London, saved 30 members of his unit when they came under heavy fire in Iraq.

Speaking at a reception in honour of Pte Beharry, Grenada's Prime Minister Keith Mitchell said the whole of the Caribbean was proud of the soldier.

Dr Mitchell said he was "inspirational" and added he had "provided a lift to the moral fibre of Grenada's spirit".

Pte Beharry, still recovering from head injuries sustained in battle, is the first person to receive the VC since the Falklands conflict. He is the first living soldier to be awarded the VC since 1969.

'Tremendously proud'

General Sir Mike Jackson, chief of general staff, told the reception that words could only do a fraction of justice to his achievements.

"It goes without saying that everyone in this room is tremendously proud, but the whole of the British Army salutes you, starting with me downwards," he said.

Find out more about Britain's bravery medals

Pte Beharry, who was born on Grenada, was at the head of a five-vehicle convoy when it came under attack in the town of al-Amarah on 1 May 2004.

He guided the column through a mile of enemy ground to drop off wounded comrades at great risk to his own safety, his citation said.

Weeks later, his vehicle was hit by an rocket-propelled grenade round. Despite a head wound, he managed to reverse his Warrior to safety.

"Maybe I was brave, I don't know. I think anyone else could do the same thing," he said earlier.

Pte Beharry, from 1st Battalion the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, said he was "speechless" when told he was winning the VC.

The award is the first since posthumous VCs given to Lieutenant Colonel Herbert 'H' Jones and Sergeant Ian McKay during the Falklands conflict.

He is one of only 14 recipients of the award still alive.

The former construction worker, who came to the UK in 1999 and joined the army in 2000, has also served tours in Northern Ireland and in Kosovo.

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