A SOLDIER who put his own life at risk to go to the aid of nine colleagues caught in a fatal roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan has been honoured.
Sgt Saiasi Vono was awarded a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery for the “inspirational leadership” he demonstrated following the explosion in Helmand Province.
Sergeant Vono, 36, of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, based at Penicuik, ignored enemy fire as he carried a wounded soldier over 100 metres across open ground.
Originally from Fiji, he was on his way back to base after a patrol in the Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand, when an improvised explosive device was triggered.
It hit a Mastiff carrier which was behind Saiasi’s vehicle and the blast caused serious injuries to the soldiers it was carrying.
Three of them were later confirmed as having been killed in action.
Amid the scene of devastation, he assessed that there were multiple casualties and that urgent life-saving medical treatment was needed.
All communications with the Mastiff were lost and Saiasi had to react quickly while remaining alert to the threat of further explosions and small arms fire attacks, a known insurgent tactic.
He directed other soldiers to cover him as he led them down to what remained of the vehicle.
He climbed on to its roof, exposing himself to gunfire, in order to see inside before jumping down to gain access to the back doors.
He applied a tourniquet to the section commander’s leg and then coordinated the removal of all nine casualties from the vehicle.
Having run out of stretchers, Saiasi carried one of the casualties across un-cleared ground. Once all the casualties had been taken away from the scene, he exposed himself to further danger of attack when he led a team back to the vehicle to get equipment.
His award citation states: “In an incident of extreme pressure and chaos, Sgt Vono’s gallant act demonstrated the highest standards of leadership, calmness and selfless commitment.”
It continues: “His personal example, leadership and loyalty to his men exemplify the very best traditions of a senior non-commissioned officer in the British Army and for his actions he should be nationally recognised.”
Majors Gary McGown, Stephen Dallard and Timothy Draper and Captain Ross Boyd -all from 2 Scots - and Lieutenant Colonel David Orr Ewing, a Nato planning officer from the Royal Regiment of Scotland were also honoured .