A young soldier from Cappawhite has been awarded one of the highest honours for bravery while serving with the British Army in war-torn Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal James White was awarded the Military Cross, which was personally presented to him by Queen Elizabeth II in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
James, son of Pat White from Greenfields, Cappawhite, earned the distinguished award for “multiple acts of bravery” while serving in Afghanistan.
Speaking to The Nationalist from his family home in Cappawhite, just the day after he had left the army to pursue a civilian career, James described the Buckingham Palace ceremony as both exciting and a bit daunting.
However being in the palace was a far cry from the Afghan war zone where his acts of bravery earned him his Military Cross.
James can’t reveal all the details of the action he was involved in as part of the Special Forces Support Group, but said his award came following three incidents on his last tour of Afghanistan. The main incident, he says, was an occasion when he was in charge of a platoon of Afghan forces. Two other platoons, with friends of his, were pinned down by enemy fire. James ran across 200 metres of open space, while guns and RPGs were being fired around him, and cleared out some enemy positions, allowing his friends to leave.
On another occasion James “took out an insurgent machine gunner” and a third incident occurred when he assaulted a compound when his friends were taking casualties, allowing them to be removed.
The ceremony in Buckingham Palace took place on November 30 last. On the day he was accompanied by his mother Brigid, her husband Brian Sweetman, as well as his own girlfriend Jeanne.
James moved from Cappawhite to England in 2003 and joined the army with some friends in 2005. He says he enjoyed his career with the army and has no regrets. During his time in the army he undertook two seven-month tours of Afghanistan. Following his last tour James was happy he had achieved everything he could as a soldier and so decided not to stay with the army any longer. When he first joined up, he said, it was as a young man who wanted adventure. He also spoke highly of the education and guidance provided to him while he was in the army, saying that from day one there was a focus on his development as an individual and a professional. He has also had an opportunity to undertake educational classes.
He made a visit home last week to visit his family and friends in Cappawhite before returning to London to start his civilian career in the UK and abroad.