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Subdeacon Joe

Saving lives

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Soldier Takes Bullet


The actions of a Devon soldier, who took a bullet himself to save the life of a small child, have shown the difference between British courage and Taliban evil.


Lance Corporal Craig Murfitt, a rifleman and medic serving in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, demonstrated nerves of steel and the coolest of clear heads in a startling sequence of events, after being called to assist other soldiers during a recent patrol.


Lance Corporal Murfitt – from Barnstaple in Devon and known to Army mates as ‘Murf’ – picks up the story:


“It had been a pretty standard patrol but, when the call came in and we were re-tasked, we were told to get in there fast and provide support. I was in the rear half of my Troop Sergeant’s vehicle ready to give precision fire with my rifle, and the driver stepped on it to get there as quickly as possible.


“Our arrival, with our heavy firepower, seemed to bring the fight to an end fairly quickly, but we stayed alert. Everything was quiet, but then I spotted three men with a child on a compound roof, about 300 yards to the front of the vehicles.


“Suddenly two of the men moved off, leaving one man with the child – it was a girl, no more than 10-years-old. At this point I realised something was wrong – the man picked up a rifle and moved behind the child, taking aim at me.”


LCpl Murfitt immediately told his commander that he could identify a possible insurgent who was using a child as a shield and taking aiming at his vehicle. He was faced by a dilemma: he could protect himself and engage the insurgent but, if he did that, he could not guarantee that the child would be unhurt. Making a split-second call, ‘Murf’ took the decision to wait.


LCpl Murfitt continued:


“I knew I could take him down but, being a dad myself, I didn’t want to run the risk of killing a kid and undoing all the good work we’ve achieved. So I waited, hoping that the child would drop down and give me a clear shot.”


But then, as he was waiting for the moment to strike without putting the girl’s life at risk, the insurgent fired a single shot – it struck LCpl Murfitt on the left hand side of his helmet knocking him to the floor. His state-of-the-art Mark 7 Combat Helmet, which has saved so many lives before in Helmand, took the force of the bullet. ‘Murf’ was uninjured, but left on his back, on the floor of the vehicle, dazed and seeing stars.


He explained:


“I felt the dent in my helmet and said to the others, ‘I’ve been shot in the head but I’m fine’. I tried to stand up but I had disco legs and just had to sit down again for a bit!”


With men like this in the ranks, there will always be an Empire.

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