Military cross for soldier, 18, who braved Taliban fire to save shot officer. But he says: I'm no hero

Private Alex Kennedy

Private Alex Kennedy: 'It's just the job I was trained to do'

A soldier who was just 18 when he braved enemy fire to rescue his wounded commanding officer in Afghanistan has been awarded the Military Cross.

Private Alex Kennedy had been in the Army for only eight months and is believed to be the youngest winner of the gallantry award since the Second World War.

But yesterday the young rifleman modestly insisted that he was 'just doing his job' and added: 'I don't feel like a hero  -  that title should really go to those who go out to Afghanistan and don't make it back.'

Private Kennedy risked his life crawling to help his platoon commander who had been shot three times during a gun battle in Helmand province on June 8 last year.

He pressed on as Taliban bullets rained down around him, even after one struck the barrel of his gun and the impact flipped him over on to his back.

When he reached his commander, the teenager showed incredible coolness by administering first aid, then taking the badly injured man's radio and directing his comrades to fire towards the Taliban fighters.

He also removed some of the commander's equipment to make it easier to move him then dragged him to safety.

Private Kennedy, now 19, a Mercian Regiment rifleman from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, will be presented with the MC for his 'selfless bravery' later this year.

The teenager, whose grandfather and great-grandfather were in the Army, said: 'I'm amazed and shocked to be getting a medal. I told my mum as soon as I knew.

'But it's just the job I was trained to do. I'm a normal guy and it's just how any other soldier would act.'

His mother Lesley, 46, said: 'We are delighted and very proud but we cannot forget the people who are lost and think of their parents.'

Private Kennedy's citation says he 'acted with a level of leadership and situational awareness far above that expected of a private soldier, demonstrating selfless bravery and a cool head under fire'.

The MC was created in 1914 and last night a military historian said the teenager is almost certainly the youngest recipient since the Second World War, when soldiers were allowed to join up at the age of 15. Professor Eric Grove, of Salford University, said: 'It is probably true that he is the youngest because MCs were only awarded to officers until 1993. You would expect them to be given to people in their 20s before that point.

'It is possible that a young pilot may have been given it in World War Two. That's the only person I can think of that would be of such an age. I can quite believe that this man is the youngest since then.'

The MoD confirmed that the teenager is among the youngest MC winners but said their records do not show dates of birth for all recipients. The minimum age to join the Army now is 16, but soldiers must be 18 before they can take part in operations.

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