In February of this year, Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, H.M. Royal Marines, was assigned with the rest of his unit to Afghanistan. While out on a raid on a Taliban compound, he felt a wire move against his leg and heard something drop right ahead of him. Realizing that he’d just set off a tripwire and activated a grenade, he threw himself forward to put his body in between the explosive and his three buddies.
Thinking quickly, he twisted in midair and landed with his back on the grenade. His rucksack took the main force of the blow when the grenade exploded. Croucher was thrown across the compound. Despite a profusely bloody nose and hearing loss, “the 24-year-old Marine survived and within minutes was on his feet, refusing evacuation and demanding to be allowed to stay with the patrol. He helped set an ambush and shot dead a Taliban insurgent in the ensuing gunfight.”
Shrapnel was embedded in his body armor and helmet. His rucksack did not fare so well.
Croucher is to be awarded the George Cross, which is the equivalent of the Victoria Cross, the highest award possible, for “acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger.” His citation will read:
Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher showed extraordinary bravery, self-sacrifice and devotion to duty. He acted to save his comrades in the almost certain knowledge that he would not himself survive. His exemplary behaviour and supreme heroism are fully deserving of the nation’s highest recognition.
The only reason he is not being awarded the technically-higher award of the Victoria Cross is that there were no enemies present. While admittedly less prestigious, Croucher also earns this blog’s highest award for bravery and remarkable achievement.