Matthew Croucher who was an Air Cadet with Warwickshire and Birmingham Wing before joining the Royal Marines has been awarded the George Cross for his heroic actions whilst serving in Afghanistan.
At a ceremony in London , Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup confirmed that Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, aged 24, and former member of 2030 (Elmdon & Yardley) Squadron from Birmingham , is to receive the George Cross in recognition of his extraordinary bravery.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup said: "Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher showed extraordinary bravery, self-sacrifice and devotion to duty. He acted to save his comrades in the almost certain knowledge that he would not himself survive. His exemplary behaviour and supreme heroism are fully deserving of the nation's highest recognition."
On 9 February 2008 , Royal Marine Reservist, Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher of 40 Commando was serving with the Commando Reconnaissance Force in Helmand Province , Afghanistan . During a search of a suspect Taliban compound Lance Corporal Croucher felt a wire go tight against his legs. This was a trip-wire connected to a grenade booby-trap, positioned to kill or maim. With extraordinary clarity of thought Matthew warned his comrades to find cover before throwing himself over the grenade. As it detonated, his backpack and protective clothing absorbed the blast effect of the grenade. Miraculously, he suffered only minor injury and disorientation from the effects of the blast.
During a recent BBC interview Lance Corporal Croucher said: "All I could do in the moment was shout out 'grenade' before diving on top of it. It was incredible, I escaped with only a nose bleed and a headache."
His mother Margaret Croucher, a teacher in Birmingham , said she got three text messages from him while he was away, one of which read: "Being put forward for a citation, might meet the Queen."
She said: "Obviously I was very intrigued but we didn't get the full story until he got back and we read about it in the papers. I am obviously immensely proud but it was a typical act from him. It was not the first time he had put his life at risk."
His father, Richard, described him as a very "lucky man".
The George Cross ranks with the Victoria Cross as the nation's highest award for gallantry. It is awarded "for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger. Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher is expected to receive his honour from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in the autumn.
On behalf of Warwickshire and Birmingham Wing we would like to congratulate Lance Corporal Croucher on the award of his George Cross. We are immensely proud of Matthew and his actions. We would also like to express our wish for the safety and wellbeing of many of our other former cadets who are currently on active service. In many ways we hope that they themselves will never have to face the danger endured by Matthew.