UK Armed Forces personnel at Kabul Airport (Picture: MOD).

Military minds behind Kabul airlift given operational honours

Personnel who helped in Op Pitting – the evacuation of UK nationals and eligible Afghans – have been honoured.

UK Armed Forces personnel at Kabul Airport (Picture: MOD).

Military personnel from across the services have been recognised for their work in the MOD's list of operational honours announced today. 

Those who took part in, or planned, Operation Pitting are at the forefront of the awards.

Britain's Armed Forces evacuated thousands of UK nationals and eligible Afghans from Kabul airport as the Taliban seized control of the country last summer.

Royal Navy and Royal Marines

Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines who organised and led the dangerous evacuation from Afghanistan in 2021, are among the personnel recognised in the MOD's latest operational honours and awards for exceptional work and dedication to service.

Royal Marines Brigadier Dan Blanchford led the largest humanitarian aid operation in more than 70 years. He has been awarded a CBE.

"It is an honour to have been recognised, but this is really a story about the incredible and humbling work from all the soldiers, sailors, aircrews, RAF police and movements team whose selfless and compassionate commitment around the clock in very difficult conditions enabled us to evacuate 15,000 vulnerable Afghans," he said.

The brigadier also headed up the repatriation of British nationals from overseas amid the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the disaster relief response to the Beirut Port explosion in August 2020.

Lieutenant Commander Will Durbin has been awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service (QCVS) for his role in the Kabul airlift.

The 35-year-old naval officer was posted to Qatar to work with the Navy and RAF in operating across a large area from Cyprus to Afghanistan.

He reflected: "To witness the relief and joy of those being evacuated from Kabul, particularly the children, brought home the importance of our efforts in the operation.

"To hear the laughter of children as they were able to take their minds off their recent ordeal was a poignant moment for us all."

Op Pitting currently ongoing to evacuate British nationals and eligible Afghans from Afghanistan following the 2021 Taliban offensive 21082021 CREDIT MOD.jpg
UK personnel carry out Operation Pitting, evacuating British nationals and eligible Afghans from Afghanistan following the Taliban's 2021 offensive and seizure of power (Picture: MOD).

Chief Petty Officer Jamie Ward has been awarded a QCVS after a fire rescue while off duty.

He and wife Elaine acted quickly when they realised smoke was filling their neighbour's house in Yeovil, Somerset.

CPO Ward explained: "We could smell burning and I asked Elaine if we'd left something on.

"We looked outside and could see smoke filling our neighbour's house.

"At that point, I didn't think, and just ran upstairs knowing their baby might be up there. It was very smoky but we managed to get our neighbour out who was on the sofa.

"Thankfully the front door was unlocked, but it's something I just did naturally. You would hope someone would do that for you. We have to look after each other," he added.

Having worked as an engineer on helicopters with the Commando Helicopter Force since joining the Navy at 16, the 40-year-old served in Iraq and Afghanistan on Sea Kings and now maintains Merlins at RNAS Yeovilton, the Navy said.

Lieutenant Commander Andrew Dennis has also been awarded a QCVS for looking after the health of nearly 4,000 personnel deployed on the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) led by HMS Queen Elizabeth last year.

He developed and managed the vaccination programme across the CSG, with every individual being given a dose – effectively liaising with more than 40 countries, the Navy said.

He said: "It was a complete surprise to receive an award, and a great feeling to be recognised for my work with the CSG.

"Getting nine platforms to sea safely from a COVID-19 perspective was really challenging. Policies had to be agile and working across government was essential to creating a safe environment enabling us to successfully deploy."

Royal Navy and Royal Marines award recipients:

Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) Brigadier Daniel BLANCHFORD, Royal Marines

Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service (QCVS) Lieutenant Commander Andrew DENNIS, Lieutenant Commander William John DURBIN

Queen's Commendation for Bravery (QCB) Chief Petty Officer Jamie Andrew WARD

Foreign Awards List

US Legion of Merit Brigadier Chris ORDWAY, Royal Marines

US Bronze Star Captain James LYTHGOE, Royal Marines

NATO Meritorious Service Medal Colonel Robin FORSTER, Royal Marines

Australian Operation Service Medal Captain Nicholas WOOD

British Forces from 16 Air Assault Brigade arrive in the Afghan capital of Kabul to assist in evacuating British nationals and eligible Afghans (Picture: MOD).

British Army

Private Ahmad Fahim – who was born in Afghanistan – and Corporal Daniel Hoyland, both of 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, are mentioned in dispatches for their tenacity in searching for explosive devices and help in the aftermath of a suicide bomb in the airport at Kabul. 

Private Fahim "showed outstanding selfless bravery and commitment", his citation read, according to the Army.

Pte Fahim said: "I feel really proud, from where I've come, to be getting this. I never expected it. I'm feeling happy and overwhelmed at the same time."

Cpl Hoyland said: "I didn't expect to receive this award. It feels really good. I thought I was just getting a 'well done' from my Commanding Officer."

According to the Army, his citation said, "Without hesitation, he searched for explosive devices and, undeterred by the carnage, began to triage the injured and direct medical assistance to those most in need."

Corporal Jamie Found of 2 Para is awarded a Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service for trying to prevent people being crushed as they rushed towards the evacuation centre. 

Describing it as "a privilege", he said: "I feel honoured that I've been nominated to stand out from everyone else who I was working alongside out there."

Staff Sergeant Andrea Pearson of the Royal Logistic Corps also receives the QCVS. The Army said she is being recognised for her "expertise and attention to detail" as equipment was moved from Afghanistan last summer.

Speaking of her reaction to being recognised, she said: "It's amazing. I was so surprised. I've previously received commendations but not at that level.

"It's so reassuring to get thanked for the work you've done," she added.

Moving equipment and supplies on Operation Pitting (Picture: MOD.

British Army award recipients:

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Lt Col David Christopher MIDDLETON, The Parachute Regiment

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Rupert Mark ROBINSON, The Light Dragoons

Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

Warrant Officer Class 2 Daniel James BRYCELAND, Corps of Royal Engineers

Major Stephen Geoffrey WHITE, The Parachute Regiment

Warrant Officer Class 2 Thomas Anthony WHITEHEAD, Intelligence Corps

Mentioned in dispatches (MID)

Private Ahmad FAHIM, The Parachute Regiment

Corporal Daniel Matthew HOYLAND, The Parachute Regiment

Queen's Commendation for Bravery (QCB)

Private Lewis Bradley O'CONNOR, The Parachute Regiment

Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service (QCVS)

Corporal Jamie Lee FOUND, The Parachute Regiment

Captain Helene Lucie GLEIZES, Intelligence Corps

Major Hugo Peter HENDERSON, Royal Army Medical Corps

Lieutenant Colonel William Thomas Hindle HUNT, The Parachute Regiment

Lieutenant Colonel Chloe O'BRIEN, The Royal Logistic Corps

Staff Sergeant Andrea PEARSON, The Royal Logistic Corps

Captain James Nicholas ROBSON, The Parachute Regiment

Queen's Commendation for Bravery (QCB) – Non-Operational

Captain Lucy Elizabeth RUSSELL, The Royal Logistic Corps

Joint Commander's Commendations (JCC)

In addition to the state awards published in the Gazette, the Chief of Joint Operations (CJO) awards Joint Commander's Commendations (JCC) for operations and endeavours across the globe, including:

Lance Corporal M BAYNTUN, Scots Guards

Corporal U BHUJEL, Royal Corps of Signals

Captain J BOYCE, Royal Logistics Corps

Major C BRINDLEY, The Yorkshire Regiment

Sergeant C BRITZMAN, Royal Logistic Corps

Sergeant M CARDIN, Adjutant General's Corps

Lieutenant Colonel R CASTRO, Corps of Royal Engineers

Sergeant A J COX, Corps of Royal and Mechanical Engineers

Warrant Officer Class 1 A N CRAMPTON, Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Private K DANDIE, Royal Army Medical Corps

Corporal (Now Sgt) P V T DIP, Royal Corps of Signals

Captain L DIPROSE, Royal Logistic Corps

Major K DODGSON, Royal Logistic Corps

Colonel P DRIVER, General Staff

Captain G EDWARDS, Educational and Training Services Branch

Captain J GAMBLE, The Royal Irish Regiment

Captain T GLASSPOOL, The Queen's Royal Hussars

Colour Sergeant J GLEN, Scots Guards

Sergeant M GREEN, Royal Logistic Corps

Staff Sergeant R A HAM, Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Lance Corporal J HAMER, Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Warrant Officer Class 2 S W HARDY, Corps of Royal Engineers

Captain A C G JELL, The Parachute Regiment

Sergeant O M JENKINSON, Royal Army Medical Corps

Lance Corporal A S JOHNSON, Royal Logistic Corps

Staff Sergeant B J JOLLEY, Royal Corps of Signals

Captain S E KENNEDY, Royal Regiment of Artillery

Private L KINNERSLEY, The Yorkshire Regiment

Staff Sergeant R LEONCE, Royal Logistic Corps

Corporal D McKENZIE, The Royal Lancers

Major C MORRIS, Royal Army Medical Corps

Lance Corporal G A MURRAY, Adjutant General's Corps (SPS)

Captain A M NUNKOOSING, The Parachute Regiment

Lieutenant Colonel J PATTINSON, Royal Logistic Corps

Lance Corporal (now Corporal) B RAI, Royal Gurkha Rifles

Corporal S RAI, Royal Corps of Signals

Staff Sergeant A RAMCHARAN, Royal Logistic Corps

Captain T R REYNOLDS, The Parachute Regiment

Lance Corporal (Now A/Cpl) S T SCOTT, Royal Army Medical Corps

Staff Sergeant R SERBERT, Royal Logistic Corps

Captain L J MERRETT (formerly Sharples), Adjutant General's Corps (ETS)

Staff Sergeant A D B SIDNEY, Royal Corps of Signals

Corporal D SIMMONS, Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Sergeant R SMITH, The Corps of Royal Engineers

Lance Corporal E J TAYLOR, Royal Army Medical Corps

Captain P J TIGWELL, Royal Regiment of Artillery

Warrant Officer Class 2 (now WO1) J A TIMPERLEY, The Mercian Regiment

Major C R WHITEHEAD, The Royal Lancers

Captain J WILKINSON, Intelligence Corps

Warrant Officer Class 1 L R WILSON, Royal Regiment of Artillery

Lieutenant Colonel J WINFIELD, Royal Army Medical Corps  

British personnel deploying on Operation Pitting (Picture: MOD).

Royal Air Force

Wing Commander Kevin Latchman is awarded the RAF Air Force Cross for demonstrating extreme leadership and gallantry.

While beginning a take-off from Kabul airport, a suicide bomber and convoy of three vehicles entered the runway. 

The Wing Commander successfully navigated the aircraft away, saving the lives of 377 people on board.

Royal Air Force award recipients

As Commander

Air Commodore S.R. STRASDIN OBE

As Officer

Wing Commander (now Acting Group Captain) T.L. STEVENSON MBE

Air Force Cross

Wing Commander K.H.T. LATCHMAN

Joint Commander's Commendations

Wing Commander (now Group Captain) N.M. BADEL

Wing Commander S.D. BELL

Wing Commander S.M.N. BLOOMER

Wing Commander M.A. BRAMMER

Wing Commander S.J. LAMPING

Wing Commander Y.D. WILLIAMS

Squadron Leader D.L. BIRD

Squadron Leader N.S. CLARK

Squadron Leader C. GRAY

Squadron Leader C.J. LYNN

Squadron Leader N.E. POLLOCK

Flight Lieutenant E.J. DAVEY

Flight Lieutenant G.E.J. MILLARD

Flying Officer J-M. WOODHOUSE

Corporal C.M. CHAPLIN

Corporal K.A. LAWLER

Senior Aircraftman A.M. MOTRIUC

Team Commendations

Air Mobility Force

Force Movements Control Cell

99 Squadron Aircraft Ground Engineer Team

121 Expeditionary Air Wing – Medical Support Team

121 Expeditionary Air Wing – Operational Communications Delivery Team

906 Expeditionary Air Wing

906 Expeditionary Air Wing LXX Squadron Engineering Detachment