By RICHARD WOOD
Friday, March 22, 2013
A heroic Norfolk soldier is to be awarded one of the highest military honours for bravery after he risked his life in Afghanistan to save his platoon from danger.
Lance Corporal Lawrence Kayser, from Woodton, near Bungay, is to be given the Military Cross after he single-handedly cleared a compound of insurgents, who had been preparing an ambush, and went on to patrol for a further five hours despite being injured by a grenade.
L/Cpl Kayser, of The 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, will be given the Military Cross, which is the third highest level of recognition for gallantry, leadership and bravery in active operations, for his “exceptionally gallant actions”.
The award has been announced as part of the latest Operational Honours list, which sees 23-year-old Private Lewis Treloar, of Norwich and from the same battalion, made an MBE after he found at least 40 major stores of deadly devices during his tour of Afghanistan.
Soldiers currently with the Light Dragoons at Swanton Morley were also honoured, with Lance Corporal Stephen Shaw receiving a Military Cross and Major Timothy Dalby-Welsh being awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service.
L/Cpl Kayser, who is based in Bulford, in Wiltshire, was given his honour after his actions in June 2012.
The 27-year-old charged Taliban fighters after racing into their compound in Helmand when his platoon suddenly came under heavy fire.
The platoon had been taken deep into enemy territory to ambush a known insurgent route in Gereshk Valley, as part of Operation Maahi Buzurg, however, L/Cpl Kayser, who now lives in Mill Hill, London, realised that all the men were at risk when they were seen and went to cover all the angles, coming face-to-face with an insurgent fighter.
He pursued him and was hit by shrapnel from a grenade, but pressed on despite a “bee sting” sensation in his arm, to clear the compound.
It was only when he returned to his base five hours later that he discovered the extent of his shrapnel wounds.
The soldier, who has had three tours of Afghanistan and two tours of Iraq, was treated and returned to his patrol base.
He said: “You’re always scared, but for me it was instinct, I’ve been in fights with the enemy before.”
An extract from L/Cpl Kayser’s citation reads: “Still only an inexperienced Lance Corporal, the decisions Kayser made that day were in the full knowledge of the extreme danger he would be exposed to.
“At any stage he could have stopped or waited for support, but he knew with every second the shock effect of his assault would dissipate placing his comrades in greater danger.
“He therefore chose to press forwards alone. In the aftermath it became clear the insurgents that Kayser intercepted were in the process of preparing their own attack.
“Kayser’s exceptionally gallant actions undoubtedly saved a potentially disastrous situation and are worthy of very significant national recognition.”
L/Cpl Kayser is among 118 brave servicemen and women who have been recognised in the latest honours list published today, and one of only 11 to receive the Military Cross. Since 2001, just 198 serving personnel have received the honour for service in Afghanistan.
He said: “I’m humbled, but I have seen a lot of brave actions in theatre so I’m not sure I’m worthy of it. I’ve never been a medal man, but my parents are ecstatic.”
The latest awards are to be presented later this year, but were announced at a ceremony at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, in Surrey, yesterday. Other honours announced were for meritorious service.
Recommendations for the awards were made by commanding officers and are ultimately submitted to The Queen for approval through the defence secretary.
Secretary of state for defence Philip Hammond, (pictured left), said: “In a changing world the bravery and commitment to duty of our servicemen and women remains unswerving.
“Whether fighting for our security on operations abroad or rescuing mountaineers and sailors within the British Isles, they deserve our gratitude and respect.
“I hope that the awards announced today go some way to underlining how much this country values the efforts and sacrifices of our armed forces.”