Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Wednesday, 14 April 2010 14:30 UK

Private Alex Kennedy plays down Military Cross award


Pte Alex Kennedy, of 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment, saved his injured officer and took charge of colleagues during a battle with the Taliban

A teenage soldier awarded the Military Cross for bravery in Afghanistan has said the news is "overwhelming".

Private Alex Kennedy, of 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment, saved his injured officer and took charge of colleagues during a battle with the Taliban.

The 18-year-old, from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, is the youngest soldier granted the award since World War II.

He said it was a soldier's "dream" to win a medal, adding: "It still hasn't hit me."

He said: "I just shrug my shoulders, it's all I can do at the moment."

Pinned down

Pte Kennedy, who had only been in the Army for six months, was lead man in a patrol which came under fire in Garmsir, Helmand province, last year.

The man behind him, patrol commander Captain Andy Bell, was hit in the legs and lay bleeding heavily.

Pte Alex Kennedy of 2nd Battalion Mercian Regiment
Pte Kennedy had only been in the Army for a few months

Heavy Taliban fire and difficult terrain meant the rest of the patrol further back was unable to engage the enemy and support them.

Pte Kennedy gave Capt Bell first aid, organised colleagues to start returning fire then got on a radio to direct nearby armoured vehicles to provide cover and allow the rest of the patrol to move up and help.

This was despite being knocked off his feet and left temporarily stunned by a bullet that ricocheted off his helmet.

Capt Bell, aged 26, from Manchester, said doctors later told him Pte Kennedy had undoubtedly saved his life and he thoroughly deserved the award.

He said: "It was certainly the most intense firefight that we'd had up to that point.

"He almost certainly prevented further injuries that day."

'So quiet'

Pte Kennedy's mother Lesley said her son had always wanted to be a soldier.

She said he had spoken little about the incident but the whole family was extremely proud of him.

She said: "Alex has been so quiet about things since he came back, he hasn't said much about what he did or what was going on.

"Alex's attitude is always 'I was just doing my job, I didn't do anything special and we're a team'.

"And that's all he will say. He's quite modest."

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