Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 12:59 UK

Military cross for 'selflessness'

Benjamin Kelly
Benjamin Kelly recovered WO2 O'Donnell's body under fire

A soldier who was shot at as he recovered the body of an Oxfordshire comrade in Afghanistan has received the Military Cross for his bravery.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Benjamin Kelly, from Richmond, London, spent 30 minutes recovering Gary O'Donnell's body.

WO2 O'Donnell, who was based at Didcot, was killed while attempting to defuse an improvised explosive device.

The Ministry of Defence praised WO2 Kelly's, "selfless actions and exceptional bravery".

WO2 Kelly, 36, was serving with the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment and was recognised for his "exceptional bravery" when his troop was ambushed.

He said he had mixed emotions receiving the medal, as it was the first anniversary of WO2 O'Donnell's death.

'Traumatic circumstances'

He said: "We heard the explosion and I was told he had been hit.

"I moved forward to get him back.

"Whether someone is injured or they have been killed, our priority is that person and we will do whatever has to be done to get them back."

A spokesman for the MoD said: "Despite the intense pressure and the most traumatic circumstances, and in an area known to contain a significant improvised explosive device threat, Kelly's selfless actions and exceptional bravery enabled the recovery of a body and minimised the risk to all remaining forces."

Warrant Officer Class 2 Gary O'Donnell
Gary O'Donnell was killed last year by an improvised explosive device

WO2 O'Donnell, of the Royal Logistic Corps - who died in Helmand in September 2008 - received a posthumous bar to his George Medal last year.

His medal citation said he had shown "selflessness and composure in challenging and distressing situations".

The father-of-four was decorated for two particular incidents in Basra, southern Iraq, one of which involved him spending four hours in a protective suit in boiling temperatures, deactivating a bomb made of 23 large explosive charges.

Colleagues said his life-saving work in Afghanistan had included one operation over the summer when he defused eight deadly booby-traps in a single day.

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