Three Colchester-based Paratroopers have received awards for bravery for helping the evacuation from Afghanistan.
The trio were taking part in Operation Pitting. The mission was designed to get British nationals and eligible Afghans out of Kabul last summer as the country fell under the control of the Taliban .
The soldiers, Private Ahmad Fahim, Corporal Daniel Hoyland, both of 3rd Battalion theParachute Regiment (3 PARA), and Corporal Jamie Found, of 2 PARA were cited for their roles in the Evacuee Handling Centre at Kabul airport.
Thousands of people were desperately trying to flee the country after the US forces began to withdraw. A suicide bomb detonated killing dozens including US troops.
Pte Ahmad Fahim, 36, who was born in Afghanistan got a Mention in Despatches (MiD) as the battlegroup’s interpreter.
The MiD states that Pte Fahim “showed outstanding bravery and selfless commitment during Op PITTING. Without his critical intervention, the clearing of a route between the Evacuee Handling Centre and the airport would not have been possible in the early days of the evacuation."
On learning of his award, Private Fahim said: “I feel really proud, from where I’ve come, to be getting this. I never expected it. I’m feeling happy and overwhelmed at the same time.”
Pte Fahim's parents and siblings fled the Taliban last August, he said: “When you’re in there, you really know the desperation those people were having
"I was just imagining my sister and mother being in the crowd. Every family I brought to the gate, I brought them in and helped them. When they said, ‘thank you my son’ and to see the happiness on their faces, that energised me, and I wanted to help even more.”
Private Fahim, who was shot by the Taliban on a previous tour with the US military, was 100 metres away from the bomb that that went off. He ran into the crowd to try and help.
Also receiveing an MiD was Corporal Daniel Hoyland. Cpl Hoyland was one of the first torespond to the suicide attack near to where the British soldiers were operating at the Evacuee Handling Centre.
Cpl Hoyland, on learning of his award, said: “I didn’t expect to receive this award. It feels really good. I thought I was just getting a ‘well done’ from my Commanding Officer.”
“When the IED went off, my section were the closest to it out of the British Forces. I was about 60 metres away - I got a burst eardrum. There were a lot of casualties, and I was dealing with the crowd and trying to save as many people as possible. That’s the things I will remember forever.
“People were working round the clock and sleep deprived but everybody was doing a good job. It was short and sharp, but it was a pretty hard thing to get done,” he said.
Meanwhile fellow Corporal Jamie Found is awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service for his brave work preventing people from being crushed as they surged towards the Evacuee Handling Centre.
Cpl Found, 32, led his team into the crowd, pushing them back and forming a protective barrier to hold the line.
He said: “It’s a privilege. I feel honoured that I’ve been nominated to stand out from everyone else who I was working alongside out there. To be honest, I feel that everyone did such a good job that you can’t really separate what I did from everyone else I worked alongside.”