Victoria Cross hero inspires students

Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry
Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry

A HEROIC soldier who was awarded the Victoria Cross has given an inspiring talk to students.

Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry was awarded the British Forces’ highest military honour for twice saving comrades’ lives after being ambushed in Iraq.

L/Cpl Beharry spoke about his life, brushes with death and comeback from injury to a packed audience at Hartlepool College of Further Education yesterday.

He told them: “To be alive and speak to you guys and share my experience with you is a blessing.”

L/Cpl Beharry, who grew up in Grenada, was awarded the Victoria Cross for two acts of heroism under intense fire while serving as a private with the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment in Iraq in 2004. In May, 2004, he drove a Warrior armoured vehicle through an onslaught of heavy fire while responding to a foot patrol caught up in ambushes.

L/Cpl Beharry, who was a private at the time, drove the crippled Warrior through the ambush leading his crew and five other Warriors to safety. He then pulled his wounded comrades from the vehicle, while still under fire.

In June 2004 he was again driving a lead Warrior vehicle through Al Amarah when his vehicle was ambushed.

A rocket-propelled grenade hit the vehicle six inches from his head, leaving him with serious shrapnel injuries to his face and brain.

Despite his life-threatening injuries, he kept control of his vehicle and drove it out of the ambush before losing consciousness. He later had brain surgery.

L/Cpl Beharry, 32, who lives in London, said: “I talk about my experiences, where I came from and what I actually did. The aim is to give them some form of direction and know what it feels like to work as a team.

“In the five years that I have been doing this it has shown that it works. The response I get from students is amazing.”

Shaun Hope, head of school at the college, said the chance to hear L/Cpl Beharry was too good to pass up. He added: “A lot of our students have aspirations to join the Army so it’s an opportunity to hear first hand what it’s like and ask questions.

“For other students it helps them understand what goes on in the world and what the soldiers who fight for our country do.”

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