Bravery award for wounded St Albans soldier
- Credit: Sergeant Barry Pope (Phot)
Bleeding from a serious gunshot wound to his neck which had missed vital arteries, a St Albans soldier repeatedly put himself in the line of fire to save his comrades in Afghanistan.
Despite his wound, temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius and enemy sniper rounds ricocheting around him, Lance Corporal Simon Moloney bravely passed on vital target information to win the firefight.
And now the 23 year old’s extreme valour in battle, where a goat was an unusual casualty, has been officially recognised.
The former Sandringham School pupil has recently received a Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC) – one of 117 awards for gallantry and meritorious service included in the military operational honours list 42, which covers the period between April and October 2013.
The CGC is at the level below the Victoria Cross and is awarded in recognition of acts of gallantry during active operations against the enemy.
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L/Cpl Moloney, of the Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons), was part of a troop landed by helicopter deep within the insurgent stronghold in the Yakhchal area of Helmand Province.
Working alongside a machine-gunner, the pair were keeping watch from a domed compound roof to allow the troop to move onto another target.
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But a bullet fired by an insurgent sharpshooter tore into L/Cpl Moloney’s neck, missing his voice box by millimetres.
Speaking on ITV and the BBC about his injury, L/Cpl Moloney said: “The bullet hit me and it instantly winded me.
“You think, it’s ‘game over’ there and then. I thought I probably had about two minutes left [but] a minute later when I was still breathing, I started to think maybe it’s not that bad.
“But a gunshot wound to the neck – you don’t normally survive that.”
L/Cpl Moloney said the bullet entered and exited his neck just behind his windpipe, “somehow missing an artery”.
He joked: “So I had a nice hole. I sounded like Phil Mitchell for about three weeks.”
L/Cpl Wesley Masters, a medic who attended the wounded soldier and was awarded the Military Cross, said he ran 400m under gunfire to his aid.
He added: “I expected him to be dead, so I was quite happy with what I got to see in front of me.
“It was an obscure injury to dress.”
Unfortunately a goat that broke L/Cpl Moloney’s fall from the 8ft-high roof did not fare as well beneath the 100kg impact, and it was killed.
Although hurled off the rooftop from the force of the gunshot, and as grenades started exploding inside the compound, L/Cpl Moloney reoccupied his former position after receiving first aid, to identify enemy positions.
Shouting target information despite his bleeding neck and enemy sniper rounds, L/Cpl Moloney brought the fire support under control, suppressing the insurgents.
The soldier continued fighting for 90 minutes until, against his will, he was extracted to safety by helicopter.
His citation states: “Moloney’s actions in the face of a determined enemy and with little thought for his gunshot wound was an inspiration to his troop.
“In his utter determination to protect others and in total disregard for his own life, he displayed extreme valour.
“Without his gallantry and skill in the ruthless suppression of the enemy, it is likely that his troop would have sustained multiple casualties.”