Saturday, March 22, 2008

True Courage

“Corporal David Hayden has become the first RAF Regt Gunner to be awarded the coveted Military Cross following his outstanding bravery and disregard for his own safety during a sustained fire fight whilst deployed to Basrah in 2007.
Corporal Hayden served in Iraq as a Section Commander on B Flight, Number 1 Squadron RAF Regiment. On 7 August 2007, he was deployed as the second-in-command of a B Flight Multiple patrol, call-sign 20A, during a half-Squadron foot patrol in Al Waki. As his call sign came under intense enemy fire, Corporal Hayden, aided by one of his flight, ran into the open to bring Leading Aircraftsman Beard, who lay grievously wounded, into cover, personally accounting for at least one of the enemy in the process. Although being constantly exposed to hostile fire, Corporal Hayden then carried LAC Beard a further 200 metres to safety. He then returned to his call-sign to rally his men before leading their extrication from the area.
With absolute disregard for his own safety, he repeatedly risked his life in order to rescue a wounded comrade and extract his men from danger.”
These were the plain facts that won David a medal.
But there is far more behind the story of David Hayden, not just of courage in the face of the enemy but a different sort of courage. The courage to make something of a life going terribly wrong.
But for his military career, one not without its stumbles along the way, David would have remained one of the feckless, feral youths that clutter the streets of Britain’s towns today. And nobody is more aware of that than David.
I’ve been engaged to write his story and it will be a pleasure to be able to detail the life of a true celebrity who provides a good example to the young.
Of his award he says:
"I'm honoured to get this award but I dedicate it to my fallen comrades."
And of the uniform? "I'm proud of this uniform because it identifies me as a serviceman, as a protector of the Sovereign.
"I'm proud of it because the RAF Regiment has made me what I am today - a Military Cross winner. And no-one can take that away."
David, after several hazardous tours of duty, is now an instructor back home in the UK.
He says it was the military that turned him from a yob into a hero and made his life worthwhile.
They should have made him a recruiting officer!


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