Tribute for soldier who braved minefield: Christopher Bellamy reports on two acts of heroism during the Gulf conflict

AN RAF sergeant who twice crawled into the middle of a dense Iraqi minefield and dragged two badly injured Kuwaiti boys to safety yesterday received one of the highest awards for bravery.

Sergeant Dennis Rogers, 37, received the George Medal for rescuing the boys, aged 10 and 13, and getting them to safety just in time. Both had lost a leg and been badly cut. The temperature was 45C and after rescuing the first boy he was already badly dehydrated. He crawled back, further along the beach, to rescue the second boy.

Corporal Christopher Winter, 26, of 21 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron Royal Engineers, guided Sergeant Rogers through the mines and held a secure line to which he was fastened. If Sgt Rogers had stepped on a mine, Cpl Winter was to pull him out. He was also at risk from the mines, and yesterday received the Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct. He left the Army earlier this year and now lives in Norfolk.

Sgt Rogers' only item of specialist equipment was a US Marine knife. When he visited one of the injured boys in hospital afterwards, the youngster told his mother 'this is the man with the big knife'.

The minefield was one of many left by the Iraqis after they withdrew from Kuwait. The two men were called in by local police and found the two boys, who had been on a fishing expedition, lying amid scores of anti-personnel mines laid close together. The elder boy was about 40m inside the minefield, the younger, 60m.

The younger boy's foot was hanging by a few shreds, and his head was three inches from another mine. The other had lost a leg and both were badly cut about, but still conscious. They were in shock and lying quite still, and Sgt Rogers at first reprimanded the medical team, wrongly, for giving them morphine.

Realising he had to act immediately to save the boys' lives, Sgt Rogers, who had no formal training in breaching minefields, ordered onlookers to take cover and then crawled into the minefield, locating and moving a number of powerful mines. Unsure of his footing, he dared not stand up, so close were the mines.

The medical team said the rescues were completed just in time to save the boys' lives.

The citation says Sgt Rogers' 'courageous and selfless action cannot be praised enough In a harrowing operation, he kept his cool and in a most hostile environment, he thought only of the welfare of his casualties.

'His action was typical of his brave and strong character shown throughout his exceptional service in the aftermath of the Gulf war in Kuwait.'

Cpl Winter's citation says he acted in a 'courageous and totally selfless manner. In spite of the extremely dangerous environment and the harrowing sight of injured children, he remained calm and professional throughout. His bravery, commonsense and prompt response are typical of his service in Kuwait during the aftermath of the Gulf war'.

(Photograph omitted)