Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Tuesday, 1 September 2009 12:46 UK

Iraq soldier sells bravery medal

Conspicuous Gallantry Cross
Justin Thomas said his family meant more to him than the medal

A former Royal Marine has put his Iraq medal on sale with a £60,000 reserve price to raise money for his family.

Justin Thomas, 30, received the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for fighting off more than 100 Iraqi insurgents single-handedly in 2003.

It is the second-highest award for gallantry under fire.

Mr Thomas, of Llantwit Fardre, Rhondda Cynon Taf, said: "I'll be sad to part with it but I have to do what is right for myself and my family".

The former lance corporal with 40 Commando, Royal Marines, said: "I'm proud of what I did out in Iraq but I thought being awarded the medal and meeting the Queen was more nerve-wracking."

He received the cross following an incident during an armed fight near the southern Iraq city of Basra.

Lance Corporal Justin Thomas
When I look at my family in the future and think what we did with our lives because of the medal I know it will be better than if it was left sitting in a drawer
Justin Thomas

During the battle, he climbed onto a vehicle single-handedly to return fire using only a machine gun while the Marines came under heavy attack from the opposing forces.

His citation said: "As small arms and RPGs (rocket propelled grenades) landed all around him, his determination to suppress the enemy did not waver, nor did his courage in the face of considerable threat to his own life.

"This singular act of selfless bravery ensured that his troop were able to extract safely from effective enemy fire without loss."

Mr Thomas, who has now left the Marines and works as a civil servant, said his family means more to him than the medal.

"I've got a little one now and we're considering having more children in the future," he said.

"I'm not an expert but I've always been interested in medals and I know how much they can go for.

"When I look at my family in the future and think what we did with our lives because of the medal I know it will be better than if it was left sitting in a drawer."

He and his wife Heather are already planning what to do with the money.

"We've put our house on the market recently and we're trying to upgrade so we have more space," he added.

The cross will be auctioned next month along with his three service medals from Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.



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