A hero in the truest sense

WORDS can be diminished by overuse. Common parlance relegates terms like 'courage' and 'hero' from superlative to mundane – but no-one can dispute that these are words which apply in their truest sense to Weston soldier Mark Powis.

WORDS can be diminished by overuse.

Common parlance relegates terms like 'courage' and 'hero' from superlative to mundane - but no-one can dispute that these are words which apply in their truest sense to Weston soldier Mark Powis.

Today's Mercury carries Sergeant Powis' remarkable story of bravery and determination in the very toughest of circumstances.

On patrol in Afghanistan, Sgt Powis' team came under heavy fire from well-armed and ruthless enemy combatants.


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The sudden assault left the commanding officer seriously injured, and an inexperienced team at genuine risk of slaughter.

Yet Sgt Powis' indomitable spirit, allied to his intelligence and authority, allowed him to inspire his men to a safe retreat.

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Three times he braved enemy fire, first to rescue his commander, second to retrieve a vital radio, and third to plot an escape.

And the hero officer then placed himself between enemies and his men to guard the team as it fought its way free of the ambush.

Sgt Powis was this week one of only seven British troops to be awarded the prestigious Military Cross, a medal accompanied by a citation which praised his 'inspirational speed, raw courage and presence'.

He deserves the acclaim. Had the quick-thinking, bravery and command which galvanised the younger troops been missing, no-one knows how many British lives may have been lost.

Yet with modesty befitting a hero, the 26-year-old sought to downplay his actions.

"I had to step up, take control and responsibility for the care of the troops and get them out of the situation alive," he said. "It's part of doing my job."

But soldiers are alive today because of his actions. Try telling them - or their mothers, fathers, wives, girlfriends and children - that Sgt Powis was just 'doing his job'.

Because to them, there's only really one word which describes Sgt Powis, and there's nothing mundane about the word 'hero' when they use it.

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