British soldier awarded Victoria Cross for saving Marine
By Oriana Pawlyk
A British soldier received his country's highest military award for valor for heroic actions in Afghanistan that saved the life of a Marine infantry officer. Capt.ain Brandon Bocian said recently he is grateful for the actions Lance Cpl. orporal Joshua Leakey, 27, took while their units took fire from 20 insurgents on Aug. 22, 2013. Bocian was wounded during the hour-long firefight.
Lance Cpl. Joshua Leakey, a 27-year-old paratrooper in the British Army, received the Victoria Cross on Thursday. It was the first time a living soldier received the medal, which has only been awarded twice in the last 45 years.
Leakey is credited with braving enemy fire to tend to Marine Capt. Brandon Bocian, an infantry officer, who was wounded in an hour-long firefight in Helmand province on Aug. 22, 2013. The two were part of a combined clearing operation in the region when they were pinned down.
Leakey, with "complete disregard for his own safety," tended to Bocian twice while taking fire from about 20 insurgents armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades in Helmand province.
"The fact that he chose to leave his position to help me speaks to his courage and character," Bocian said in a statement provided by the Marine Corps. "I am happy to hear that he is being formally recognized. He deserves it." Leakey was awarded the Victoria Cross on Feb. 26 for his actions, becoming the first living soldier to be awarded the medal, and only the second in over 45 years.
Bocian, who was on his second tour when he was injured, said they tried to take cover behind terrain.
"I began directing fire onto the enemy," Bocian said. "That's when I was hit." Bocian and Leakey were part of a combined clearing operation in the region when they were pinned down by enemy fire."Along the way, enemy fire intensified, we took cover behind terrain and I began directing fire onto the enemy. That's when I was hit," said Bocian, who was on his second overseas tour during the mission.
Bocian said Leakey, who had served with ith the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment since 2007 known as '1 Para,' ran back across the hillside to help him with his wound. Leakey then ran across to receive ammunition and equipment before returning to Bocian. Leakey stayed with Bocian until he was loaded on the medevac helicopter — the last time they would see each other.
During the attack, 11 Taliban fighters were killed and four wounded, according to the Ministry of Defence.
"It's part of the very nature of being in the Army, and especially the Parachute Regiment, that we have to adapt to situations you don't expect to happen," Leakey said of the award, according to the Daily Mail.
This will be the second Victoria Cross — the highest military decoration awarded for valor in the British Commonwealth — for the Leakey family, according to The Daily Mail reported. Leakey's cousin, Sgt. ergeant Nigel Gray Leakey, was a posthumously awarded the medal while fighting in Africa in 1941 during World War II.
Bocian has made a full recovery, and is now an instructor at The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, according to Marine officials.
for entry-level Marine officers teaching leadership and combat skills, the Marine Corps said.