Selkirk soldier, Corporal Richard Cook, has been Mentioned in Dispatches for repeated gallantry and inspirational leadership in Afghanistan.
As part of the Brigade Operations Company, Cpl Cook, leading 7 Platoon, displayed conspicuous bravery and resolute leadership on an operation to disrupt insurgents in central Yakchal.
In February 2013, 7 Platoon entered Yakchal to search an insurgent command post and improvised explosive device factory. Undeterred by the knowledge that their position had been identified and expecting attacks, Richard, of C Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, remained in close and full support of his partner Afghan National Security Force Tiger Team as they approached the suspected compound.
Suddenly, when crossing open ground, Richard was engaged by accurate and heavy small-arms fire from a distance of 200 to 300 metres, with rounds striking the ground among his soldiers.
He immediately took control, directing his men to what little cover there was and ordered return fire to enable an extraction of his men and the Tiger Team.
The 26-year-old said: “We knew it was coming. Rounds started cracking around us. I ordered rapid fire. The machine gunner got a stoppage and just as he ducked behind a wall a bullet struck the top of it.”
He moved out of cover to an exposed position to draw the insurgent fire and identify their position. Upon doing so, he fired a 66mm rocket, ending the contact successfully without sustaining any casualties.
“I knew I had to do something to stop them firing on us. At the time I didn’t think about putting myself in the firing line. It was only afterwards I wondered what the hell I was doing,” said the former Selkirk High School pupil.
Richard’s platoon was engaged a further eight times by accurate small arms, grenades and rocket-propelled grenades from multiple firing points, but throughout he led from the front, showing outstanding grit and determination, an inspiration to his young soldiers and the Afghan Tiger team. Richard is described in his citation as showing “a determination to succeed and tenacity in the face of such a determined enemy that was exemplary”.