A HUDDERSFIELD soldier has been awarded one of Britain's top bravery medals.
And the Examiner has had exclusive access to the true horror behind Lance Cpl Paul Hartley's incredible bravery in an unmarked minefield.
As a result he is to be presented with the George Medal by the Queen in February - second only to the George Cross - for acts of bravery not in the face of enemy fire.
The situation for Paul went from bad to disaster as mines kept blowing up, leaving three of his comrades with limbs blown off.
He tried to care for them in the minefield, giving them life-saving first aid, before he too was injured in a blast and thought he was going to die as well.
The platoon commander, 27-year-old Cpl Mark Wright, suffered terrible injuries and died as he was being evacuated. He is to receive the George Cross posthumously.
The medal is primarily a civilian award, but can be given to troops for gallant conduct which is not in the face of the enemy.
It ranks with the Victoria Cross as the nation's highest award for gallantry and is awarded for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger.
Paul, 26, who is in the Royal Army Medical Corps, was serving in Afghanistan in September when the carnage happened.
He was attached to the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment who were searching for enemy insurgents at a hill called Kajaki in the notoriously dangerous Helmand Province when disaster struck.
Paul comes from Kirkburton and was educated at Shelley High School. He now lives at Colchester Barracks with his wife, Dawn, and their one-year-old son, Ewin.
He has another son, four-year-old JJ, from a previous relationship.
His parents Kathleen and Donovan, live in Kirkburton, and he has two older brothers, Christopher, 30, and Michael, 28.
Kathleen said: "We are so very proud of him. What happened to Paul and his comrades shows the incredible dangers they face out there. It was absolutely horrific."
Disaster struck on the morning of September 6 when a patrol made up mainly of Paras were running to tackle a group of insurgents when a mine went off and they realised they had run straight into a minefield which had probably been sown by Soviet troops during their invasion of Afghanistan in the early 1980s.
Cpl Wright's official citation reads: "His complete disregard for his own safety, while doing everything possible to retain control of the situation and to save lives, constitutes an act of outstanding gallantry."