Colchester airborne army medics awarded medals for Afghanistan evacuation

Credit: ITV Anglia

Airborne army medics from Merville Barracks in Colchester, who helped support the evacuation of Afghanistan have been recognised for their efforts.

Medals were awarded to 30 medics from 16 Medical Regiment who ran a treatment facility at Kabul airport as part of Operation Pitting.

The mission was to evacuate British people and to help people fleeing the country as the Taliban took back control in August 2021.

Soldiers on their first deployment have been presented with the Afghanistan Operational Service Medal (OSM) which also has an Op Pitting clasp.

While soldiers who had previously served in the country and already received the OSM have now been given the additional clasp.

Major Will Jenkins, 16 Medical Regiment said: "For many people, it was quite overwhelming, the parachute regiment are trained soldiers, they have tasks that are perhaps unsavoury to some but they get on with them with steely determination. This was quite different, there is something quite difficult dealing with such desperation of individuals who mean you no harm, there was very little threat from the civilian population but the sheer numbers of them and their desire was so strong to escape that quite often they became a threat to us and we had to employ both soft tactics to move them back into a position where we could help them best."

Credit: ITV Anglia

In the two-week mission around 750 troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team provided security and logistic support to the evacuation.

In total, working alongside the Joint Force Headquarters and in partnership with the Royal Air Force, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office and UK Border Force, more than 15,000 people were flown out.

While in Kabul, the troops distributed 250,000 litres of bottled water, 25,000 bottles of baby formula and 9,000 nappies to the crowds of people waiting to be evacuated.

Corporal Hannah Beaumont, 16 Medical Regiment said: "A lot of people stay in your mind, a lot of people we treated, the faces I won't forget especially the ones that I couldn't help but a lot of people were really grateful and I think hopefully the whole experience has given people a lot more positive image of the army, we're not just there to hurt people, we do try and help sometimes as well."