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Bradford soldier awarded for role in Afghanistan
9:00am Monday 15th October 2012 in Bradford
A Bradford soldier who rescued two badly-wounded British security workers in Iraq in 2006 has now been given an award for his work in Afghanistan.
Sergeant Major Terry Leonard, of the 1st Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, has been awarded the Joint Commanders Commendation for helping to hand over six checkpoints to the Afghan police from the British Army earlier this year in Nad-e Ali district in the Helmand Province.
He found out about the award two weeks ago and is just one of three of his team to be given it.
After leaving school he worked as a joiner for Charles Castle and Company shopfitters, Manningham, before joining the Army.
Sgt Maj Leonard has completed tours of Bosnia, Kosovo and Northern Ireland during his 16-year career and during the latest tour, from September 2011 to April, he was the Company Quartermaster Sergeant, with responsibility for up to 140 soldiers.
News of the commendation comes six years after the soldier calmly negotiated with heavily-armed and hostile Iraqi police who were holding two security men captive in the Az Zubayr area south of Basra City.
Despite fearing for his own safety, the then 33-year-old soldier was forced to leave his troops outside and first went alone into the police station where he managed to secure the release of the prisoners, who needed immediate medical attention for their wounds.
The officer, based in Munster, Germany, remained modest about his latest achievement, saying: “It is nice to be appreciated for the work. However, I also had a small team of four other guys and without their efforts I wouldn’t have got the award. To be honest, I was told very little about it, but believe it was for the aiding of closing down checkpoint locations and handing them over to Afghan forces.
“It was very significant to hand them over to the Afghan forces and to hand over so many wasn’t supposed to happen in our time, but we thought they were ready.
“Things then progressed very quickly from there. It is not as bad as people say in Afghanistan. There is always going to be a risk due to the environment you are working in, but the work we did there is very interesting.
“We had a good working relationship with the Afghan forces and trust was built up. We believed they were ready to take on the role of the British forces.”