Manchester soldier Mark Moffitt honoured for bravery

A Manchester soldier has been honoured for his bravery in Afghanistan.

Sgt Mark Moffitt, of 1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales's Regiment, stayed in the line of Taliban fire for half an hour during an ambush last November.

Throughout the attack, the 33-year-old never left his crew position, allowing his colleagues to take cover and break out of the enemy's reach.

His actions were recognised at the Military Operational Awards on Thursday.

Sgt Moffitt had promised his wife he would not do anything brave during his fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan.

But he found himself in the centre of the carefully planned ambush where he was under machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).

Sgt Moffitt, then a corporal, stayed in the line of fire to foil the ambush and was awarded a Mention in Despatches.

Heavier weapons

He was a reconnaissance platoon section commander in Lashkar Gah and a crew gunner on a lightly armoured Jackal vehicle tasked to provide a screen around an insurgent stronghold.

As the company withdrew, an improvised explosive device (IED) was identified in the middle of a track.

The group was trapped by ditches at the roadside so they set up a cordon and the Counter-IED Task Force destroyed the device.

But as the group moved off again, the enemy unleashed their attack, and Sgt Moffitt's vehicle came under fire from three separate firing points all within 200 to 300 metres.

He shouted to his comrades to take cover as he engaged two of the enemy's positions with heavy machine gun fire, knowing it meant he was exposing his back to the third position.

He said: "I had the heavier weapons system - the noise of it alone is enough to make anyone get their head down, and I was in a better position to see the firing points rather than the other guys in the vehicles having to stand up and make more of a target of themselves.

"I was just doing my job. You look after the guys next to you, I had the better weapons system, so that day it was my job to look after the guys."

During the attack, his heavy machine gun jammed, rendering it temporarily useless, so he had to jump over the top of the vehicle to recover another machine gun before taking up the fight again.

Image caption Sgt Moffitt's vehicle came under fire from three separate firing points

He said it was only later at camp that he realised how close the situation had been.

"When I saw the damage to the vehicle I thought 'I'm not telling the wife about this one'.

"But I phoned home as I always feel better after speaking to Tina and our two boys Charly and Kallum.

"It was only when I found out about the award four days ago that I told my wife.

"A couple of hours later I was talking to my dad on the phone when she came up to me and gave me a bit of a soft slap around the head.

"She had been online and found out what a Mention in Despatches means, so she wasn't best pleased when I had promised I wouldn't put myself in any danger.

"But she understands that I didn't knowingly do it, and I certainly didn't do it to get anything. I just did it because it needed to be done."

His citation adds: "Moffitt's bravery and courage under highly accurate enemy fire that day without doubt enabled his multiple to extract from a complex ambush without receiving any casualties."

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