HEROIC paratroopers have been presented with medals in recognition of their service on operations in Afghanistan.

A socially-distanced parade was held at Merville Barracks, Colchester, last week to present medals to 18 soldiers from B Company, 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, who served in Kabul between October 2019 and April 2020.

Working alongside Australian, US, New Zealand and Danish troops on Nato’s Resolute Support mission, the paratroopers provided protection to Nato military and civilian advisors supporting training at the Afghan National Army Officers’ Academy near Kabul.

Some 350 soldiers from the 2 Para Battlegroup took part in the six-month tour.

The medals were presented by Major Craig Shephard, officer commanding B Company, who said the paratroopers’ efforts had demonstrated the UK’s commitment to Afghanistan.

“It is very important that what our soldiers achieved in Afghanistan is recognised, and they should all be immensely proud of themselves,” he said.

“Receiving a medal – particularly if it is a soldier’s first – marks the culmination of a long journey that starts when they first join the Army, the effort they put into all the training, and the hard work they all did on tour.

“This parade may have not been of the scale and grandeur that we would want to recognise what our soldiers achieved, but it was appropriate to the situation we face with coronavirus.

“Our focus is on keeping our soldiers safe, whether we are training, on operations or celebrating their achievements.”


Among those receiving a medal was Private Jacob Langridge, 22 from Arundel in West Sussex, who deployed to Afghanistan soon after joining 2 Para.

“I joined the Army to go on operations and Afghanistan was a really positive experience for me,” he said.

“I joined the company from depot as it was starting the mission preparation and then we were out in Afghanistan for six months. I went in at the deep end, but you really get to know everyone when you go away on operations and it was good to show the guys what I’m about.”


Private Declan Bonus, 23 from Norwich, added: “It’s a proud moment to receive my first medal and being presented with it in front of the company was special, because we’re such a close team.

“Afghanistan was an interesting and rewarding challenge, particularly working alongside soldiers from other countries.

“We worked together well because, even through we’ve got different backgrounds, we share the same mindset and you can learn a lot from how other soldiers do the same job slightly differently.”

Paratroopers are light infantrymen, used to operating on foot, but in Kabul they worked from Foxhound patrol vehicles.

Pte Langridge said: “Being in vehicles was very different for us as paratroopers, but we’ve learnt new skills and it was nice not to have to walk everywhere.”