Corporal Mark Wright GC (Post)

[ Parachute Regiment ]


Corporal Mark Wright awarded George Cross on Thursday 14th December 2006  Corporal Mark Wright, of the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA), has been posthumously awarded the George Cross for an act of "the greatest gallantry and complete disregard for his own safety in striving to save others."

Corporal Mark William Wright photographed on duty in Afghanistan Corporal Mark Wright was awarded the George Cross for his bravery on 6th September 2006, in Afghanistan, when he entered a minefield in an extraordinary attempt to save the lives of critically-injured soldiers. Sadly, he lost his life during the incident.

The George Cross ranks with the Victoria Cross as the highest award in the UK for acts of gallantry. The full text of his citation explains the remarkable act he undertook:  "From July 2006, a fire support group of 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, held a high ridge feature in the northern centre of Helmand Province near the Kajaki Dam. On 6 September the leader of a sniper patrol, tasked with engaging a group of Taliban fighters operating on the principal highway, was heading down the steep slope when he initiated a mine and sustained severe injuries.  "Seeing the mine-strike from the top of the ridge, Corporal Mark Wright gathered a number of men and rushed down the slope to assist. Realising that the casualty was likely to die before a full mine clearance could be effected, Corporal Wright unhesitatingly led his men into the minefield. "Exercising effective and decisive command, he directed medical orderlies to the injured soldier, ordered all unnecessary personnel to safety, and then began organising the casualty evacuation. He called for a helicopter, and ordered a route to be cleared through the minefield to a landing site. Unfortunately the leader of this task, while moving back across the route he believed he had cleared, stepped on another mine and suffered a traumatic amputation.  "Corporal Wright, again at enormous personal risk, immediately moved to the new casualty and began rendering life-saving assistance until one of the medical orderlies could take over.

"Calmly, Corporal Wright ordered all non-essential personnel to stay out of the minefield and continued to move around and control the incident. He sent accurate situation reports to his headquarters and ensured that additional medical items were obtained. Shortly afterwards a helicopter landed nearby, but as Corporal Wright stood up he initiated a third mine, which seriously injured him and one of the orderlies. The remaining medical orderly began treating Corporal Wright, but was himself wounded by another mine blast which caused further injury to both Corporal Wright and others.  "There were now seven casualties still in the minefield, three of whom had lost limbs. "Despite this horrific situation and the serious injuries he had himself sustained, Corporal Wright continued to command and control the incident.  He remained conscious for the majority of the time, continually shouting encouragement to those around him, maintaining morale and calm amongst the many wounded men. Sadly, Corporal Wright died of his wounds on the rescue helicopter. "His supreme courage and outstanding leadership were an inspiration to his men. For acts of the greatest gallantry and complete disregard for his own safety in striving to save others, Corporal Wright is awarded the George Cross."

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Corporal Mark William Wright photographed on duty in Afghanistan

Gem and Bobby Wright, parents of Corporal Mark Wright at the Operational Awards Ceremony at the MOD Main Building held on Thursday 14 December 2006

Corporal Wright's father, Bobby Wright, accepted the award on his son's behalf at an awards ceremony in MOD's Main Building on Whitehall, London, saying: "It is with great honour and sadness that I am here today to acknowledge the award of the George Cross on behalf of my son Mark who was killed in Afghanistan on 6 September 2006. "Both my wife Gem and Mark's fiancée Gillian are very proud of Mark's achievements whilst serving with 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment. "We do have some comfort in the knowledge that Mark died saving the lives of his fellow paratroopers that had become injured in a minefield. This selfless action was typical of Mark, as a commander he accepted full responsibilty for the care of his soldiers. "Mark was extremely proud to serve in the British Army and especially the Parachute Regiment. He had planned to have a long and full career in the Army but this aspiration was tragically cut short. Mark was killed whilst carrying out his duties as a Paratrooper, a job that he loved and was immensely proud to serve in. "Mark was a typical fun loving young man, a caring son, and devoted partner to Gillian. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. "I would like to thank the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment for their conduct and support throughout this very sad and trying time in our lives."

Corporal Mark William Wright was born on 22 April 1979 and lived in Edinburgh with his fiancée Gillian.

He (Mark) joined the Army on the 11 January 1999 and successfully completed the gruelling Combat Infantryman's Course and Pre Parachute Selection. After passing the Basic Parachute Course at RAF Brize Norton, he was posted to the 3 PARA on 10 October 1999 and joined the Mortar Platoon. Within his first three years of service, he had completed three tours of Northern Ireland, conducting security operations in Dungannon and Belfast. On 28 May 2003, Corporal Wright deployed, along with the Battalion, to Iraq as part of the Second Gulf War, where he served with distinction. Once back in the UK he quickly gained promotion to Corporal, before deploying to Helmand Province in May 2006 as part of Operation HERRICK IV.  Gregarious and completely selfless, he was known as a generous individual who would drop everything to help out a colleague in need.