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Honouring Penicuik’s Heroes

Soldiers from Penicuik’s Glencorse Barracks have been awarded for their bravery and dedication in this year’s Operational  Honours and Awards List.

In a credit to the local regiment, five Penicuik based servicemen, Majors Gary McGown, Stephen Dallard, and Timothy Draper along with Captain Ross Boyd and Sergeant Saiasi Nuku Vono, have been rewarded for their service in the Armed Forces.

The soldiers from the Second Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 Scots) are amongst 117 other members of Britain’s armed forces who have been awarded various honours and awards this year.

Every member of our local battalion plays a crucial role but below you can read about those who went above the call of duty:

Sergent Saiasi Vono was awarded a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery after an improvised explosive device detonated whilst he was on patrol in Afghanistan. His actions that followed saved many men as he risked himself for the lives of others.

It was in a scene of extreme desolation and disaster where Sgt Vono acted selflessly, and entered a possible line of fire, to return to a damaged Mastiff vehicle to evacuate injured soldiers and protect crucial equipment.

He was on patrol in the Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand Province in Afghanistan when a six-wheeled armoured vehicle (a Mastiff) behind his struck an IED. What was deemed the worlds safest vehicle, had been severely impacted by a powerful blast causing many casualties. Despite the risk of an ambush or a firefight, Sgt Vono quickly acted to get to the Mastiff, asking fellow soldiers to cover him as they manoeuvred through the dust to get to the remains of the vehicle.

On arrival to the vehicle, he applied a bandage to the commander’s leg before overseeing the extraction of the casualties. Faced with a lack of stretchers, Sgt Vono carried a man 100 metres across dangerous uncleared land to safety; he promptly lead a team back to the stricken vehicle to retrieve equipment which was critical to their mission.

Unfortunately his bravey and determination could not save three of the casualities, who where later named as Corporal William Savage, Fusilier Samuel Flint and Private Robert Hetherington. It is without a doubt that had he not acted, the death toll could have been far greater.

Sergent Saiasi Vono’s citation reads:

In an incident of extreme pressure and chaos, Sgt Vono’s gallant act demonstrated the highest standards of leadership, calmness and selfless commitment.

He showed physical courage in an environment of known insurgent threat. His actions ensured the swiftest possible response and his coordination on nine serious casualties was instrumental in ensuring their swift evacuation.

His personal example, leadership and loyalty to his men exemplify the very best traditions of a senior non-commissioned officer in the British Army and for his actions he should be nationally recognised.

The thirty-six year old, originally from Fiji, is based at Glencorse Barracks along with the other honoured soldiers mentioned below.

Major Stephen Dallard‘s contribution to the forces was honoured with the an OBE. The major, who was based at Patrol Base Ouellette, had the dangerous task of protecting Route 611, a much needed road linking the north of Helmand Province and the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah.

During his tour, Major Dallard oversaw many soldiers, peaking at one point at 275 men. Everyday, he and his servicemen put themselves in danger of fire attack and IEDs as they cleared the route of any danger. His dedication to maintaining the route was accompanied by the major’s presiding role into developing the Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP), who will eventually take over from British forces later in the year.

Major Stephen Dallard’s success in transferring the security responsibility of Route 611 to Afghan control allowed the early transference of Patrol Base Ouellette, and thus a reduction in deployed personnel.

Major Timothy Draper was awarded a Queen’s Commendation fro Valuable Service after his work in developing Helmand’s Police HQ.

The third-six year old worked with a team of eighteen to enable the HQ to become a lead example in the handover to the Afghan National Police. His work made sure that the the ANP can stand strong so that years of international forces working in the country are not for nothing.

His citation reads:

Draper has played a pivotal role in developing the United Kingdom’s understanding and ability to influence key Afghan power brokers.

The extraordinary combination of an assured field commander, confidence inspiring advisor and ruthlessly efficient staff officer has delivered operational effect at a seminal moment in the campaign.

Captain Ross Boyd‘s role as Company Commander of the Nad-e-Ali District Police Advisory Team saw him appointed MBE.

The Captain supported the Nad-e-Ali Uniform Police as they developed leadership and institutions during the height of the insurgent fighting season. He made sure that Aghani forces can be successful without a dependency on international forces. His dedication has undoubtedly allowed the forces to flourish independently.

His citation reads:

Captain Boyd has provided stellar leadership well beyond that required or expected of a Captain.

He has moulded a collection of individuals into a highly competent team. His Company has remained entirely focussed and utterly professional, despite the austerity of their patrol base and the increasingly routine nature of their tasking.

Captain Boyd has achieved immeasurably more than might be expected, even of a strong Major; a remarkable feat particularly for an individual who had so little role training.

Major Gary McGowan‘s role as Company Commander responsible for Lashkar Gah Training Centre Advisory Team saw him awarded with a Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service.

The forty-nine year old major wanted to take a step back to give Afghan forces the room to take responsibility for their own training, and his work payed off in late 2013 as Afghanistan became responsible for the LTC.

Lashkar Gah Training Centre is now described as a “suing light” by Afghan locals.

Do you know a local soldier who deserves a mention? Tell us below or on Facebook.

[Image © Crown Copyright, from left to right – Major Stephen Dallard, Sergeant Saiasi Vono, Major Gary McGowan & Major Timothy Draper]