An Army engineer from Eastleigh who risked his life to help victims after an Afghan minibus hit a roadside bomb by saving a child who lost a leg in the explosion, has been awarded a Queens Commendation for Bravery.
Sapper Ryan Pavey 24, was the lead searcher for a team tasked with clearing the infamous Route 611 of Improvised Explosive Devices when the civilian minibus bypassed a military cordon.
The vehicle set off a large IED planted at the side of the road less than 100 metres away. Eighteen civilians were killed outright, the majority women and young children. Five others were critically injured including a four-year old boy. IEDs planted along the road had already destroyed two heavily armoured vehicles in the past two weeks alone, and the risk of further devices amid the carnage of the explosion was high.
Ryan immediately switched his focus to clearing a safe route to the survivors. Time was of the essence but he could not risk more devices being activated by letting everyone run to the minibus. His citation says:
“Drawing on raw courage and resolve, Pavey led the team towards the survivors, constantly adjusting his assessment of the extraordinary real threat underfoot. This demanded nerves of steel, a cool head and clear focus. The heavy burden of avoiding any IEDs was his alone to bear,
“ His progress was made all the more difficult by the fragments and metal remnants of the minibus covering the area which gave false readings on his metal detector searching for more hidden deadly devices. As he reached the casualties he immediately started to give treatment, particularly to the four-year old boy whose leg had been amputated in the blast.,
“As the first responder, Pavey’s treatment was outstanding, stemming the bleed, reassuring the boy and extracting him to a waiting Afghan Police vehicle for evacuation; without doubt saving the boy’s life.‚
“Pavey’s conduct was extraordinary, placing himself in harm’s way to assist the badly wounded and traumatised survivors. This horrific incident represents only one of many examples of his persistent courage over six psychologically gruelling months. The demands on him have been relentless and daunting. His conduct has been humbling.”
Sapper Pavey told the BBC:
“At the time you go into auto-pilot. You’re not thinking of the bigger picture. But it was the worst civilian incident I witnessed by a long way.”
The Queen’s Commendation for Bravery is awarded for bravery that involves risk to life and meriting national recognition.