George Cross for 'bravest' bomb heroes

Two Army bomb disposal experts were hailed as "the bravest of the brave" today after being awarded the George Cross for their incredible heroism in Afghanistan.

Close friends Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid, 30, and Staff Sergeant Kim Hughes, 30, will receive the honour after making safe scores of Taliban improvised explosive devices (IEDs) - many by hand.



Staff Sgt Schmid, known as Oz, who was born in Truro, Cornwall, and lived in Winchester, Hampshire, was killed attempting to disarm a bomb in the deadly Sangin area of Helmand Province in October.



During his time in Afghanistan he personally dealt with 70 IEDs, saving the lives of many of his comrades and Afghan civilians.



Staff Sgt Hughes, from Telford, Shropshire, was honoured for what was described as "the single most outstanding act of explosive ordnance disposal ever recorded in Afghanistan".



On one day last summer he dismantled seven IEDs in a minefield in Sangin by hand without any protective clothing so five seriously wounded soldiers and the bodies of two dead comrades could be recovered.



Sitting next to Staff Sgt Schmid's widow, Christina, Staff Sgt Hughes paid tribute to his friend.



He said: "To be honoured, to be sat here with Chrissie, to know that I've achieved the award and Oz has achieved that award, is out of this world to be honest. It's really good."



Staff Sgt Hughes caused a stir in October when he told Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth, on a visit to Afghanistan, that more troops were needed on the ground.



The George Cross ranks along with the Victoria Cross as Britain's highest award for bravery.



It is presented to civilians and members of the armed forces who carry out acts of great heroism not in the presence of the enemy.



Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, Chief of the Defence Staff, said the two soldiers were "exceptions in an already exceptional group, the bravest of the brave".



He said: "As one of our top two operational honours, the George Cross is awarded only rarely. Its recipients must have displayed the very highest levels of gallantry.



"The actions of Staff Sgt Hughes and the late Staff Sgt Schmid meet this most demanding test in full measure.



"Their selfless commitment, unswerving devotion to duty and unsurpassed courage are both awe-inspiring and humbling."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on