A Hawick soldier is to receive a mention in Despatches for his life-saving heroics in Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal Christopher Burns (24) of 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland was on a joint patrol when an Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier was left seriously injured after stepping on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
The soldiers were deployed as part of a 10-day operation in the Nad-e Ali District of Central Helmand – a high threat area where IEDs were numerous and insurgent attacks frequent.
Christopher’s platoon and the ANA were tasked to provide support to another platoon that had been pinned down by insurgent fire when the explosion happened, amputating the ANA soldier’s leg, causing heavy bleeding. With total disregard for his own safety amid the threat of IEDs and sustained incoming machine-gun fire, Christopher got up and ran across the open ground with one of his colleagues behind him providing covering fire.
He treated the injured ANA soldier before throwing him over his shoulder and jumping into a nearby water-filled ditch that could have been laced with IEDs to take cover from enemy fire.
Struggling with the weight of the casualty, Christopher then ran 70 metres down the uncleared knee-high ditch to a helicopter extraction point.
“At the time it was a spur of the moment thing, nothing goes through your head at the time but the need to get the casualty out of there,” said the former high school pupil. “The only way we could get him out was for me to put him over somebody’s shoulder, we had no stretcher, and I was the biggest one there to do it.
“You never think of things like detonating another IED yourself because you will never get through your tour with thoughts like that.”
His citation reads: “Burns quick thinking, total disregard for his own safety and exceptional courage under fire saved the life of an Afghan National Army Warrior (soldier) – a man he barely knew. He set the best possible example for others to follow and played a significant part in fostering trust and respect between his company and their Afghan National Army partners.”
Christopher, who joined the Army in 2003, has also served in Bosnia, Iraq and Northern Ireland. His parents Peter and Paula still live in Hawick, as does Christopher with his wife Rachel.