A hero of our times
Whenever you hear veterans talking about their experiences – and it’s often with reluctance - a common thread runs through their reminiscences: the bond of comradeship. One feels they would be prepared to lay down their lives for their pals, their mates. Recently one did and happily survived.
Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher a Royal Marine from Solihull whilst serving with 40 Commando in Afghanistan, was on a night time reconnaissance mission when he stepped on a trip wire. Thinking he was going to be killed he made a spit second decision to twist his body and throw himself on the grenade hoping his back pack would shield his comrades. Miraculously he escaped with a nose bleed and a headache. He saved his friends from, at the very least, serious injury.
Aged 24 Matthew has been awarded the highest award for bravery given, in the absence of the enemy: the George Cross at an investiture at Buckingham Palace.
He said: “It is a great honour. I don’t really think about what I did. I don’t tend to dwell on it. There are a lot of other people in Afghanistan who have done similarly courageous acts who haven’t been recognised. When you are in the heat of a gun battle there are always people doing heroic things and they don’t always get picked out for it. They are just doing their job.”
He said in July this year: "I felt a bit guilty for setting the device off. I thought that the best course of action for everyone including myself was to lie right next to the grenade, point my body armour towards it with my day sack and take the brunt of the explosion and see what happens from there."
As Matthew says he’s not the only one ‘just doing their job.’