A soldier from Birmingham who ran across open ground under Taliban fire to rescue three terrified young Afghan children has been awarded the Military Cross.
Corporal Carl Taylor used his own body as a shield as he carried the boys, aged between three and seven, back to their distraught mothers.
At the time his girlfriend was five months pregnant, but he said he did not think about this when he courageously dashed 80ft in full view of the enemy to reach the youngsters trapped by insurgent gunfire.
Cpl Taylor, 25, of 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, was a month into his tour of Afghanistan when the incident occurred on a joint operation with the Afghan National Police in the village of Popalzay in Helmand Province on March 10 last year.
After coming under attack from militants, he and his comrades took cover in a compound, where they found two very distressed women.
He said: "Through the interpreter they told me their children were stuck outside. I stuck my head out to have a look. The children were stuck behind a small wall. They were too scared to move because of the incoming fire from the insurgents."
Without thinking about his own safety, the soldier rushed over to the weeping young boys, picked one of them up and ran straight back to the compound. He and his platoon commander, Captain James Cook, then went back to rescue the other two children, who ran straight into their mothers' arms.
Cpl Taylor, from Birmingham, said the Afghan women expressed their joy at being reunited with their sons.
"They were very grateful and kept thanking us. They made some of their local tea, but we didn't really hang around that compound for that much longer," he said.
Cpl Taylor said he was "really chuffed" to receive the Military Cross, adding: "It's absolutely a great honour. It came as a complete shock."