Charles presents medals to troops on Operation Shader

The Prince of Wales handed out the medals at Combermere Barracks in Windsor.

08 March 2022

A soldier who found out he was to become a father just before he headed off to Iraq was among troops receiving medals from the Prince of Wales.

Charles presented medals to soldiers deployed on a mission targeting the remnants of so-called Islamic State.

Charles, who has been Colonel of the Welsh guards since 1975, presented Operation Shader medals to The Prince of Wales’s Company at Combermere Barracks in Windsor on Tuesday.

Operation SHADER medal presentation
The Prince of Wales presents Operation Shader medals to The Prince of Wales’s Company at the Combermere Barracks (Adrian Dennis/PA)

Charles watched around 75 members of The Prince of Wales’s Company on parade after handing out medals to around 25 soldiers.

Among those receiving a medal from Charles was Guardsman Ryan Salmon, 28, from St Davids in Pembrokeshire, whose father James Salmon received a medal 40 years ago from Charles for his service in the Falklands.

Guardsman Salmon said Charles seemed genuinely interested in the mission, adding: “It was an honour to receive a medal off him. My father received a medal from the Falklands war just under 40 years ago.

“It was poignant for me and my family for that to happen.”

The soldier was joined by his parents, partner and six-week old baby girl at the ceremony.

Guardsman Salmon said he only found out that his partner was pregnant when he was in isolation ahead of his trip to Iraq.

“I found out on the first day of isolation just before I flew out,” he said, adding: “She rang me to tell me the news.”

He said he did not see his partner until he returned to the UK four and a half months later.

Guardsman Salmon said communicating was easy during his time in Iraq, adding: “My missus did want a few letters just to be romantic.”

Lance Sergeant Ugochukwu Okeke, 39, originally from Nigeria, also received a medal from Charles and said his time in Iraq was “really good”, adding: “I enjoyed every bit of it.”

His wife joined him at the ceremony and he paid tribute to the loved ones who remain at home.

“They do the hard job because they’re the ones that stay behind to hold the fort and look after the family,” he said, adding: “I think they’re the ones, they’re the heroes in this.”

Charles also presented four Long Service and Good Conduct medals, and three Accumulated Service Medals to members of the Welsh Guards.

Operation SHADER medal presentation
The Prince of Wales presents Operation Shader medals (Adrian Dennis/PA)

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, including The Prince of Wales’s Company, were deployed on Operation Shader 13 to Iraq, Kuwait and Cyprus between June and December last year.

Operation Shader is the British commitment to the continued defeat of Daesh across the broader Middle East.

The Prince of Wales’s Company were deployed to Erbil in the northern Iraq region of Kurdistan.

They undertook tactical vehicle patrols across the region, working to ensure the safety and protection of multi-national partners as they conducted defence engagement with Iraqi partners.

In Baghdad, Kuwait and Cyprus members of the battalion worked with coalition partners in various roles to ensure the success of the defeat Daesh mission.

These included training the Iraqi Armed Forces, conducting logistical and resupply operations and working in high-paced operations rooms.

Many members of the Battalion were deployed for six months, returning home for a two-week period of rest and recuperation in the middle of their tour.

Upon their return in December 2021, they were met by their families and spent Christmas at home in Wales and Windsor.

A few days after the parade, The Prince of Wales’s Company will deploy to Kenya on exercise for six weeks.

The Welsh Guards remain deployed on Operation Shader until June 2022.

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