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Victoria Cross hero Johnson Beharry talks to Netflix about a movie of his life

The full quote explaining why then-Private Beharry received the Victoria Cross in 2005 reads:

Private Beharry performed two individual exploits, saving the lives of his comrades. Both faced the enemy directly, under intense fire, at great personal risk to themselves (one that resulted in very serious injuries). His courage deserves the highest recognition.

In the early hours of May 1, 2004, Beharry’s company was ordered to replenish an isolated coalition troops outpost in the center of the troubled city of Al Amarah. He was the driver of a platoon commander’s armored fighting vehicle. His platoon was the reserve power of the company and was immediately notified to move.

Dan-Private Johnson Beharry in 2005, when a new wing opened in Sandhurst, was named after him

Dan-Private Johnson Beharry in 2005, when a new wing opened in Sandhurst, was named after him

When the main elements of his company moved to town to carry out the replenishment, they were tasked with fighting through a series of enemy ambushes to take down a patrol stuck under persistent small arms and heavy machine gun fire. And improvised explosive and missile propelled grenade attack. Beharry’s platoon was given the task by radio to assist the rest of the party, who attempted to withdraw the isolated foot patrol.

“When his platoon passed a roundabout on the way to the detained patrol, they became aware that the road to the front was empty of all civilians and traffic – an indication of a potential ambush ahead. The platoon commander ordered the vehicle to be stopped so that he could assess the situation. The vehicle was then immediately hit by multiple rocket propelled grenades.

Eyewitnesses report that the vehicle was engulfed in a number of violent explosions, physically shaking the 30-ton warrior up and down. As a result of this savage initial burst, both the platoon commander and the vehicle gunner were knocked out by concussions and other injuries, and several soldiers were injured in the rear of the vehicle.

Because of the damage sustained during the blast from the vehicle’s radio systems, Beharry had no means of communication with his turret team or any of the other warriors deployed around him. He did not know whether his commander or crew members were still alive or how serious their injuries might be.

In this confusing and dangerous situation, he closed the hatch of his driver on his own initiative and walked through the ambush position to try to establish some form of communication, stopping just before a barricade across the street. The vehicle was hit again by sustained rocket-propelled grenade attacks from rebellious fighters in the alleys and on roofs surrounding its vehicle.

Further damage to the warrior from these explosions caused him to catch fire and quickly fill with thick, noxious smoke. Beharry opened his armored hatch to clear his view and orient himself to the situation. Still without radio communications, he now acted on his own initiative as the lead vehicle of a convoy of six warriors in an enemy-controlled area of ​​the city at night.

“He judged that his best way to save his crew’s lives was to get through the ambush. He drove his warrior directly through the barricade, not knowing if mines or improvised explosives were placed there to destroy his vehicle. By doing this, he was able to lead the remaining five warriors behind him to safety.

“When the smoke rose in his driver’s tunnel, he could just see the shape of another rocket-propelled grenade coming directly at him in flight. He pulled down the heavily armored hatch with one hand, still driving his vehicle with the other. But the overpressure from the explosion of the missile tore the hatch out of its grip, and the flames and power of the blast went directly over him, through the driver’s tunnel, further injuring the semi-conscious gunner in the tower.

“The impact of this missile destroyed Beharry’s armored periscope, so he was forced to drive the vehicle through the rest of the ambush route, about 1,500 meters long, with its hatch open and its head exposed to enemy fire all the time without communication with any other vehicle. During this long wave of ambushes, the vehicle was hit again by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms.

While his head stayed out of the hatch to allow him to see the route ahead of us, he was directly exposed to much of this fire and was himself hit by a 7.62mm bullet, which was his helmet penetrated and remained on its inner surface. Despite this harrowing weight of incoming fire, Beharry continued to push through the vast ambush, still leading his pack until he broke clean.

Then he visually identified another warrior from his company and followed him through the streets of Al Amarah to the outside of the outpost of the Cimic House, which received small arms from nearby. After stopping his vehicle outside, without thinking of his own personal safety, he climbed onto the dome of the still-burning vehicle and, seemingly unaware of the incoming enemy firearm fire, he manhandled his wounded platoon commander from the turret, outside the vehicle and for the safety of a nearby warrior.

He then returned to his vehicle and reassembled the exposed turret to lift the gunner off the vehicle and put him in a safe position. Exposing himself again to enemy fire, he returned to the rear of the burning vehicle to bring the disoriented and shocked disassemblies and victims to safety.

He mounted his flaming vehicle for the third time and drove it through a complex chicane and into the security of the outpost’s defended perimeter, thus denying it to the enemy.

Only at this stage did Beharry pull the handles of the fire extinguisher, immobilize the vehicle’s engine, dismount and then move into the relative safety of another warrior’s back. Once inside, Beharry collapsed due to the sheer physical and mental exhaustion of his efforts and was then evacuated himself.

Beharry’s combatant, who returned to work after medical treatment, was part of a rapid reaction force on June 11, 2004, tasked with shutting down a mortar team that had attacked a coalition troop base in Al Amarah. As the lead vehicle of the pack, he drove quickly through the dark city streets to the suspected shooting point when his vehicle was ambushed by the enemy from a series of rooftop positions.

During this initial heavy weight of enemy fire, a rocket-propelled grenade exploded on the vehicle’s frontal armor, just 6 inches [15cm] of Beharry’s head, resulting in a serious head injury. Other missiles hit the tower and sides of the vehicle, making his commander incapacitated and injuring several crew members.

With the blood from his head injury that obstructed his view, Beharry managed to continue driving his vehicle and the warrior forcibly drove out of the ambush. The vehicle continued to drive until it hit the wall of a nearby building and came to a stop. Beharry then lost consciousness due to his wounds.

“By taking the vehicle out of the enemy’s chosen killing zone, he enabled other warrior crews to take his crew out of his vehicle, with a greatly reduced risk of incoming fire.

Despite the fact that he sustained serious head injuries, which later made him listed as seriously injured and in a coma for quite some time, his level-headedness in heavy and precise enemy fire at close range almost certainly once again saved the life of his crew and for the conditions for a safe evacuation to medical treatment.

“Beharry showed repeated extreme courage and undisputed courage, despite intense direct attacks, personal injury and damage to his vehicle in the face of brutal enemy action.”