TWO Chesterfield soldiers back from a demanding six month tour of Afghanistan were given royal approval for their work when presented with campaign medals by the Duke of York.
Lance Corporal Christopher Hancock, 21 and Trooper Mark Russell, 23, deployed to the country with the 9th/12th Royal Lancers were honoured at a a ceremony at their home barracks in Hohne in northern Germany by Prince Andrew, the colonel-in-chief of the unit,
Former Hasland Hall Community School student Christopher, who also took part in a guard of honour for the Duke of York in full ceremonial uniform was second in command of a section in Afghanistan and would regularly take part in foot and vehicle patrols on reconnaissance missions.
He said: “The foot patrols were particularly hard with the heat and all the kit we carried. They were really difficult but enjoyable. I saw a lot of the country.
“We would visit the Afghan National Army (ANA) at various check points and embed with them on patrols, mentoring and teaching them skills, with the aim of giving them a lot more confidence about what they needed to do.”
Christopher, who joined the Army in 2007 and also served in Iraq in 2008 added: “It’s terrific getting my medal from the Duke of York and a very proud moment to be part of the official ceremony.”
Trooper Mark Russell, who attended Springwell Community School and joined the Army in 2009, drove a tank and also took part in both vehicle and foot patrols conducting missions with members of the ANA.
“I had never been on tour before, when I first went out there, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Mark.
“But I got used to it, and gradually started to learn what to look out for.”
He added: “The Afghan soldiers seemed a little on edge and nervous when I first arrived but after a while they improved and were able to organise their own patrols. By the end of my tour they were really good. One of the highlights of my Army career was going to Afghanistan; it was stressful but definitely rewarding.”
The Duke of York told soldiers during the parade their work was extremely important to the people of the UK and the Afghan community.