A PLATOON commander whose team kept 1,500 troops supplied under the daily threat from insurgents has been awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service.
Colour Sergeant Darren Bates, 41, from Chester, was ground commander of the Mastiff Protected Mobility Group serving in Forward Operating Base Shawqat in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Throughout the operation, he and his platoon were critical to the re-supply and sustainment of five large patrol bases and four checkpoints.
Col Sgt Bates, who is a member of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment based in Catterick, said: “Obviously I’m very proud to receive this award and my whole family are as well, particularly my wife and dad.
“I feel as if I have achieved one of the main aims of the tour and, although I was just doing my job, I am chuffed to bits.
“Getting an award for doing the job I’m paid to do is really gratifying, especially as I will be leaving the Army next year after 26 years. I’m over the moon.”
The Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service recognises meritorious service during or in support of operations.
Col Sgt Bates and his platoon routinely covered more than 1,500 kilometres each month – with most journeys along highly contested routes with large numbers of improvised explosive devices. The team regularly came under fire.
Despite frequent attacks and ambushes, Col Sgt Bates and his team never wavered, ensuring isolated locations were resupplied with essential equipment, supplies and personnel.
During one of numerous attacks, his patrol was ambushed.
With one soldier critically wounded, Col Sgt Bates showed calm tactical restraint by directing accurate fire against the insurgent positions while manoeuvring his convoy into a safe area to give first aid.
His measured approach undermined the insurgent ambush and minimised the danger of collateral damage.
Col Sgt Bates’ ruthlessly effective leadership achieved outstanding results – all achieved despite the exhausting schedule that he and his team placed themselves in daily.
His citation states: “Bates has been utterly professional, dedicated and unflappable.
“He met significant daily risks with courage and an iron will to complete his tasks to the very highest standards.
“For his courage, inspirational leadership and an unswerving focus on mission success, Bates is recommended for national recognition.”