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Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Wednesday, 20 October 2010 14:57 UK
War hero launches Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal
Marine Warrant Officer Matthew Tomlinson
WO Tomlinson ran 50m (164 ft) while under fire

A decorated war hero has launched the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal at Yeovilton naval airbase.

Royal Marine Warrant Officer Matthew Tomlinson was awarded the Military Cross after saving the lives of colleagues under fire in Afghanistan.

The 43-year-old has also received the Gallantry Cross and was made an honorary freeman of his home town of Street at a service on Saturday.

The Royal British Legion hopes to beat last year's appeal total of £34m.

Since 2003, it has helped 10,000 serving and ex-serving members and their families who are part of the Iraq and Afghanistan generation.

'Whirlwind' life

WO Tomlinson was patrolling with the Armoured Support Group, part of 3 Commando Brigade, when the lead Viking armoured vehicle was partly blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED).

Oblivious to his safety, he ran 50m (164 ft) under fire to a save trapped troops.

He then further risked his life by searching for a Royal Marine who had been manning the gun turret on top of the damaged Viking.

This is not a matter of a man achieving military objectives, this is a man that has put human life as his first priority.
Bryan Beha

He found the turret had been blown some distance away with the Marine still inside, but already dead.

WO Tomlinson said his life had been a whirlwind since receiving his honours.

He said he was not a "celebrity" but said receiving the honours was a "really good opportunity for me to be able to bring more visibility for the armed forces and what a fantastic job all of those are doing".

"[The honours] are not through individual effort. It is all teamwork - it's everybody mucking in and getting on with the job and I see myself as having the honour of carrying those medals for everybody that I serve with."

The chairman of Street Parish Council, Bryan Beha, said his achievements were "magnificent".

"He has continually put the lives of others before his own best interest.

"This is not a matter of a man achieving military objectives, this is a man that has put human life as his first priority.

"We are honoured to have him as the first freeman of Street."

WO Tomlinson now serves with 1 Assault Group Royal Marines in HM Naval Base, Devonport.




SEE ALSO
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24 Mar 10 |  Oxfordshire

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