HEROIC medics have been honoured by the Duchess of Cornwall for their life-saving work in Afghanistan.
Camilla presented medals to 200 medics at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth for their service in the warzone last year.
The Duchess arrived by helicopter at the naval base yesterday morning where she inspected the parade before mingling with the medics and their relatives in the wardroom.
After taking the salute from 200 Royal Navy medics as well as 18 Army and RAF personnel and three civilians, she inspected the band of the Royal Marines Commando Training Centre which took on the role of stretcher bearing in Afghanistan last summer.
A few sailors standing to attention struggled to keep a straight face as the band played the theme tune to TV series M*A*S*H which was set in a US military hospital in Korea.
But the happy occasion belied the tough work the medics had performed on 10,000 front-line foot patrols and in Camp Bastion hospital, where they dealt with 3,600 patients.
Among those receiving medals were military nurses who are based at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.
Medical Assistant Marc Duncan, 22, who lives in Havant, was serving with 1 Rifles regiment in Nar-e Saraj, one of the fiercest areas for fighting.
He told how he tried in vain to save a young Afghan boy who had stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED).
‘Both of his legs were amputated and he was in a bad way,’ he said.
‘We did all we could for him and we managed to keep him alive and get him on a helicopter to the hospital to give him the best chance of survival.
‘But unfortunately we heard he later died from his injuries.
‘Sometimes you think “Could I have done this or that?” But I gave it my best. My job was to get him on the helicopter alive and that’s what I did.’
RAF medic Corporal Stephanie Roberts, 29, of Fareham, who also works at QA, was in the emergency department at Camp Bastion hospital from February to June last year.
She said: ‘It’s an amazing place. The technology and the equipment is second to none.
‘Quite often I would go and see the patients in the wards after we’d treated them and say “I was there when you came in” and the gratitude they showed was amazing. But that’s our job, that’s what we were there for.’