UK — Record-breaking counter-IED operator awarded George Medal

A sol­dier cred­it­ed with deal­ing with more impro­vised explo­sive devices than any oth­er British oper­a­tor in his­to­ry has been award­ed the George Medal for his brav­ery.

A soldier tentatively brushes away the dust from a suspect object beneath the surface of a road near Garmsir, Afghanistan
A sol­dier ten­ta­tive­ly brush­es away the dust from a sus­pect object beneath the sur­face of a road near Garm­sir, Afghanistan (stock image)
Source: Pet­ty Offi­cer Air­man (Pho­tog­ra­ph­er) Dave Hus­bands, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Act­ing War­rant Offi­cer Class 2 Karl Ley of the Roy­al Logis­tic Corps made safe and recov­ered 139 IEDs across Hel­mand province dur­ing his tour of duty from 5 Sep­tem­ber 2009 to 14 March 2010. Dur­ing this peri­od, A/WO2 Ley was a High Threat Impro­vised Explo­sive Device Dis­pos­al Oper­a­tor who was called on to defuse impro­vised explo­sive devices through­out Helmand. 

See Relat­ed News to read more about A/WO2 Ley and the expe­ri­ences of the Counter-IED Task Force dur­ing Oper­a­tion MOSHTARAK ear­li­er this year. 

The cita­tion for the award states that in sup­port­ing the infantry’s inten­si­ty of oper­a­tions A/WO2 Ley will­ing­ly accept­ed an incred­i­bly high lev­el of per­son­al risk, often hav­ing to deploy on foot with only what he could car­ry in his ruck­sack, and that, on a 72-hour oper­a­tion in Novem­ber 2009, A/WO2 Ley defused 28 vic­tim-oper­at­ed impro­vised explo­sive devices and tack­led 14 bombs: 

“This sin­gle day typ­i­fies the sheer deter­mi­na­tion, guile and awe­some brav­ery of this man,” the cita­tion reads. 

At times A/WO2 Ley had to clear bombs with insur­gent mor­tars and gun­shots land­ing as lit­tle as 100ft (30m) away from him. He said: 

“If you are being shot at, you just get down on the deck, so you may as well get rid of the bomb while you are down there. 

“I don’t see it as par­tic­u­lar­ly dan­ger­ous,” he added. “I just see it as a job, some­thing that needs to be done. 

“Oth­er sol­diers think my job is dan­ger­ous while they would quite hap­pi­ly engage the ene­my in a fire­fight. I real­ly dis­like it when peo­ple shoot at me.” 

Despite his gen­uine mod­esty, A/WO2 Ley’s cita­tion records that he: 

“… worked tire­less­ly in the most haz­ardous of con­di­tions, endur­ing both men­tal and phys­i­cal fatigue, dis­play­ing unwa­ver­ing ded­i­ca­tion and con­spic­u­ous gal­lantry over a sus­tained period.” 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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