Soldiers from RAF Wittering are honoured by the Queen

The team: front left, Dieter Gent, front second from left Cpl Jamie Carter, front third from left Sgt John Rhodes, front fourth on left LCpl Andrew Oscroft, rear top right LCpl Ian Pilon, with senior officers.
The team: front left, Dieter Gent, front second from left Cpl Jamie Carter, front third from left Sgt John Rhodes, front fourth on left LCpl Andrew Oscroft, rear top right LCpl Ian Pilon, with senior officers.
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A team of soldiers from RAF Wittering have been honoured by the Queen for saving a man’s life after an horrific accident on the A1.

Sgt John Rhodes and his team based at RAF Wittering helped save the life of a driver who suffered horrendous injuries in the accident last year.

Sgt John Rhodes, right.

Sgt John Rhodes, right.

They were mentioned in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list and received their award last month.

Sgt Rhodes, of Thrapston for 11 years and approached the Telegraph to tell his story in a bid to raise profiles of all serving members in the armed forces for their actions, not only away on the front line, but back home in peace time.

The sergeant and his team of armed soldiers provide high profile security to Ministry of Defence establishments such as RAF Wittering.

Explaining the drama that led to his award, Sgt Rhodes said: “While on duty in January last year, myself, heading my specialist armed security team, had the unfortunate task of dealing with a very serious public road traffic accident which happened on the A1 just outside our station.

He had life-threatening severe head and face trauma.

Sgt John Rhodes

“A young gentleman unfortunately rolled his vehicle several times at speed while travelling northbound.

“After being summoned by a passer-by myself and my team of soldiers worked in unison to save the gentleman’s life.

“He had life-threatening severe head and face trauma.

“I controlled traffic and protected incoming emergencies services and my troops, while two of my highly trained soldiers administered immediate first aid sustaining the gentleman’s life. Shortly after the emergency services arrived and took over the scene.”

The nature of victim’s injuries and the accident meant it took the fire service 40 minutes to cut him free and stabilise him.

The ambulance staff who then took the man to hospital had to stop twice to revive him after he flatlined on two occasions.

Although they don’t know the precise outcome of the incident Sgt Rhodes said his team believe the victim did make a recovery in hospital.

The team were put forward for recognition by their warrant officer, who passed the details on to the station commander, who passed the details up the chain of command, culminating in the award from the Queen.

Sgt Rhodes said: “For our actions we were presented with a commendation and mentioned in the Queens Birthday Honours List last year as a team commendation.”

Those honoured by the Queen are Sgt Rhodes, Cpl Jamie Carter, Lance Cpl Andrew Oscroft, Lance Cpl Ian Pilon and former Private Deiter Gent, who is now a civilian.

The actual commendation was presented at a ceremony at RAF Wittering last month.

Sgt Rhodes said: “I hope to think anybody would stop and help. It is fortunate for us that we had the resources to help.

“I certainly would not want to be seen as heroes.

“The fire service and the ambulance service who do this all day every day are the real heroes.”

In a letter praising the team, the Air Vice-Marshall SKP Reynolds said: “These award are not given lightly and it is an achievement that your team should be justifiably proud of.”

The citation for the Royal Air Force Team Commendation states: “Throughout the incident the personnel under control of Sgt Rhodes provided traffic control on an extremely busy section of the A1 during darkness, initially protecting the personnel providing first aid and later the emergency services extracating and treating casualties.

“Their calmness under pressure, speed of reaction in an extremely confusing situation and ability to work together to immediately take control undoubtedly played a crucial part in preventing an already serious situation from getting worse.

“The whole group played a vital role in ensuring that what was already a serious road traffic accident did not turn into a fatal one. Fom initital assessment of the situation, through taking control of the scene to the treatment of the casualty, all personnel acted with professionalism, dedication and determination that is a credit to them personally and to the service.

“They are fully deserving of wider recognition.”