Leakey Awarded Victoria Cross For Heroism In Afghanistan
Leakey became the first living British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroism during the Afghan campaign.
And he only the 15th to be awarded the medal since the end of the WW2
And the Victoria Cross is not the first in L/Cpl Leakey’s family.
His second cousin, twice removed, won a posthumous VC while serving with the King’s African Rifles in Abyssinia.
The Valor Bravery And Selflessness
It was expected to be a routine mission like countless others during the long campaign in Afghanistan.
A joint force of British soldiers and United States Marines were to be helicoptered into an area, flush out any fighters that might be there and hold meetings with the village elders.
But Leakey, aged 27, who was serving with 1st Bn Parachute Regiment ended up single-handedly turned the tide of a Taliban attack.
Their helicopter had landed near a hill just outside the village, in order to provide protection for troops from the other helicopter who would move into the village.
Soon after exiting their helicopter, the troops who were to move into the village came under heavy and accurate machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire, pinning them down on an exposed slope.
The group spent an hour under heavy fire and a US marine officer was hit in the shoulder.
L/Cpl Leakey and around six British soldiers were on the other side of the hill when they heard the gunfire and heard over the radio that someone had been injured.
Why Leakey Was Awarded The Victoria Cross
The citation for his medal reads:
"L/Cpl Leakey, positioned on the lee of the hill, realizing the seriousness of the situation and with complete disregard for his own safety, dashed across a large area of barren hillside which was now being raked with machine gun fire".
"As he crested the hill, the full severity of the situation became apparent and approximately twenty enemy had surrounded two friendly machine gun teams and a mortar section",
Leakey first moved down the hill and gave first aid to the wounded American.
But realizing the Taliban still had the upper hand, he set off back up the hill to get one of the machine guns back into action.
When he reached the machine gun, the incoming Taliban fire was so heavy and accurate that bullets were hitting the gun’s frame.
Undeterred, he picked it up and moved it to a better position to open fire.
As he fired back at the fighters he could see them around 300 to 400 yards away in a half built compound.
His actions spurred on those around him to fight back, but not content, he decided that a second machine gun needed to be set up on the crest of the hill.
His citation reads:
"Weighed down by over 60lbs of equipment, he ran to the bottom of the hill, picked up the second machine gun and climbed back up the hill again: a round trip of more than 200m on steep terrain. Drawing the majority of the enemy fire, with rounds splashing around him, L/Cpl Leakey overcame his fatigue to re site the gun and return fire".
"Displaying gritty leadership well above that expected of his rank, L/Cpl Leakey’s actions single-handedly regained the initiative and prevented considerable loss of life, allowing a wounded US Marine officer to be evacuated. For this act of valor, L/Cpl Leakey is highly deserving of significant national recognition".
Leakey’s Reaction To The Award?
Leakey said that he was deeply honored but insisted that the award was for everyone in his regiment and battalion.
"It was a memorable patrol in that a lot happened, but that’s what it was, another patrol".
"Everything written in the citation says me, me, me. But I definitely feel it’s a team thing. There were blokes who were with me there on the ground right in amongst it and if it was up to me they would be sat here as well".
He denied he had ever been scared as bullets ricocheted around him.
"You don’t really think what could happen to yourself, you think, how is what I’m doing now going to improve the situation?".
"It’s part of the very nature of being in the Army, and especially the Parachute Regiment, that we have to adapt to situations you don’t expect to happen".
Pointing to the badge on his maroon Parachute Regiment beret, he added:
"The only thing I was really scared of was letting this down. That to me, that’s why I joined, that’s why I joined the Army to be a paratrooper".
Service In Afghanistan
Leakey joined the British Army in 2007 and was subsequently posted to the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment.
He served three tours of duty in Afghanistan during Operation Herrick: in 2009, 2011 and 2013