A heroic Royal Marine from Birmingham who threw himself on to an exploding grenade in Afghanistan to save the lives of his comrades is to receive the George Cross.
Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, 24, will become one of just a handful of living recipients of the award, which ranks alongside the Victoria Cross as the highest decoration for bravery.
L/Cpl Croucher was taking part in a mission to uncover a suspected Taliban bomb-making factory in Helmand Province, in February when he stepped on a trip-wire and triggered the device.
He said: "I thought, I've set the bloody thing off and I'm going to do whatever it takes to protect the others. I figured that if I could keep my head and torso intact I'd probably survive any other injuries - although I fully expected to lose a limb."
He threw himself on to the floor and twisted his back on to the device so his rucksack, containing a medical pack, shoulder-launched rocket and medical equipment, took the full force of the blast.
His three pals suffered just cuts and bruises while L/Cpl Croucher was thrown in the air but received nothing more serious than a severe nosebleed. He said it took him 30 seconds after the blast to realise he was still alive.
He was examined by a medic who recommended he should be evacuated, but he demanded to stay and fight the Taliban, and later that same day shot dead an insurgent in a gunfight.
L/Cpl Croucher, a bachelor whose father and grandparents were in the armed forces, added: "Of course I would do this again - I believed I was going to die on many other occasions, probably at least 12."
L/Cpl Croucher has served twice in Iraq and once in Afghanistan. Remembering the incident in February this year, he told how he only had a split second to warn his comrades. He said: "I felt the trip wire hit my shins. You know immediately what that means. All I could do in the moment was shout out 'grenade' before diving on top of it."
His bag was crammed with equipment which cushioned the explosion. He added: "It was incredible. I escaped with only a nose bleed and a headache.
"Afterwards, as I was receiving treatment, I remembered an episode of (TV series) Soldier Soldier when I was a teenager. One of them had to do exactly the same as what I had done. I don't think they came off as well as I did."
He described his award, which ranks alongside the Victoria Cross as the highest decoration for acts of gallantry, as the most "overwhelming honour".
His parents Margaret, 55, and Richard, 57, of Olton, in Birmingham, said they had no idea what had happened until their son returned to the UK in April.
Mrs Croucher, a retired music teacher, said she received three text messages while he was away, one of which read: "Being put forward for a citation, might meet the Queen."
She said: "Obviously I was very intrigued but we didn't get the full story until he got back and we read about it in the papers. I am obviously immensely proud but it was a typical act from him. It was not the first time he had put his life at risk."
His father described him as a very "lucky man".
Mr Croucher added: "You could say he is jammy - we have since been told about a series of other incidents when his life has been on the line. It is hard to believe he is still only 24."
L/Cpl Croucher, who will receive the GC from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in the autumn, said there was a four to five-second wait as he lay on top of the device. He said: "It was the most agonising wait of my life. I just had to hope that my bag was packed properly to cushion the explosion."
L/Cpl Croucher, a reservist who runs his own risk assessment business, said he does not know when he is likely to return to action. He added: "I am ready and willing."