Victoria Cross Awarded for Extraordinary
Heroism in Al-Amarah

BAGHDAD, Iraq (MNF Iraq) — The Victoria Cross, the highest British award for gallantry, has been awarded for the first time in more than 20 years to a young Soldier for his supreme gallantry in Iraq last year.

Pvt. Johnson Gideon Beharry from 1st Battalion, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, is the first person to receive the Victoria Cross since 1982, and the first living recipient in the British Armed Forces since 1965.

Beharry received the VC for two separate acts of outstanding gallantry of the highest order while based in Al-Amarah, Maysan Province, in 2004.

In the first incident, May 1, 2004, Beharry was driving the platoon commander’s Warrior armored vehicle, which had been called to the assistance of a foot patrol caught in a series of ambushes. The Warrior vehicle was hit by multiple rocket-propelled grenades that caused damage and resulted in the loss of radio communications. The platoon commander, the vehicle’s gunner and a number of other Soldiers in the vehicle were injured.

Beharry showed initiative and great courage driving through the ambush, taking his own crew and leading five other Warriors to safety. He then demonstrated outstanding bravery by extracting his wounded colleagues from the vehicle, all the time exposed to further enemy fire. He was cited on this occasion for “valour of the highest order.”

While back on duty June 11, 2004, Beharry was again driving the lead Warrior vehicle of his platoon through Al-Amarah when this vehicle was ambushed. A rocket-propelled grenade hit the vehicle and he received serious head injuries. Other rockets hit the vehicle incapacitating his commander and injuring several of the crew.

Despite his very serious injuries — from which he is still recovering — Beharry showed great strength of character, taking control of his vehicle and driving it out of the ambush area before losing consciousness.

His citation stated “For his repeated extreme gallantry and unquestioned valour, despite intense direct attacks, personal injury and damage to his vehicle in the face of relentless enemy action, Private Beharry deserves the highest possible recognition.”

Beharry, 25 years old and from Grenada, has served in the British Army since 2001. He is married to a fellow Grenadian, Lynthia, who works for the British Ministry of Defence as a civil servant.