Medal for man who braved Iraqi terror attack to save lives

HONOUR Chris Harding in the Iraqi desert
HONOUR Chris Harding in the Iraqi desert
The Russian destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov as seen from HMS Somerset in the Moray Firth

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BRAVE Chris Harding has been awarded with a medal for his heroics after a terror attack on an Iraqi army base in 2004.

Chris was working as a civilian catering manager at the Australian army training camp in Al Kasik when terrorists exploded two truck bombs in front of the packed dining hall at lunchtime, killing more than 50 people.

The aftermath of the terrorist attack at Al Kasik

The aftermath of the terrorist attack at Al Kasik

Under a hail of rocket fire that followed the bombings, Mr Harding led a team of workers, including five Indian nationals, to rescue people from the wreckage.

Seven years on from the devastating attack, Mr Harding and his colleagues have been awarded a Bravery Medal by the Australian government.

It comes after modest Mr Harding, from Portsmouth, fought for recognition for the five Indian men.

He said: ‘An Australian man got a medal in 2006 and I didn’t think that was fair on the guys working with me who did so much on that day.’

Mr Harding wrote to the Australian government and travelled to India at personal expense to get statements from the men, who in turn told of how he had led the rescue mission.

He said: ‘I hadn’t actually expected a medal myself.

‘I’m more happy the Indian guys have been recognised – they’re made for life now.’

Recalling the attack on August 8, 2004, Mr Harding said: ‘There were still mortars and rockets coming in because the terrorists knew rescue workers would be there. There was no cover or anything but we just cracked on. We just blocked everything out.

‘There were terrifying injuries in the dining hall. I knew many of the men in there. A lot of them were screaming my name.’

The 54-year-old added: ‘There’s not a day that goes by I don’t think about it.

‘It’s changed my outlook on life – as a boss I used to be quite aggressive but now I’ve got more of a human side.’