Victoria Cross: Paratrooper Joshua Leakey becomes Britain's first living holder of UK's highest honour from war in Afghanistan

He received the honour for showing “complete disregard” for his own life

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The Independent Online

A paratrooper has become Britain’s first living holder of the Victoria Cross from the Afghan war. Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey was given the nation’s highest decoration for valour for “complete disregard” for his own life to safeguard others during an ambush in Helmand, Afghanistan.

L/Cpl Leakey, 27, was part of a patrol of British soldiers and US Marines attacked by the Taliban south of Nawzad in August 2013. In the ensuing firefight he manned a machine-gun with insurgent bullets ricocheting off its frame. Despite being the youngest member of the squad he took charge of the situation, driving off the enemy and giving first aid to a US captain who was shot in the shoulder. Two posthumous Victoria Crosses have previously been awarded in the Afghan campaign. A relation of the L/Cpl, Sergeant Nigel Gray Leakey was a recipient of the honour in 1945 in East Africa.

L/Cpl Leakey, who has seen three tours of duty in Afghanistan, said he was “deeply honoured”, but the award also belonged to his comrades. He said: “The only thing I was really scared of was letting my cap badge down. That’s why I joined the Army – to be a paratrooper. I’m lucky, I’m here, I’ve got all my limbs, my health, I’ve got my friends and my family.”

David Cameron said: “L/Cpl Leakey epitomised valour with his actions on that hillside in Helmand.”