Ely Mum Talks About Soldier Son's Bravery In Afghanistan
PUBLISHED: 14:07 08 April 2010 | UPDATED: 13:19 02 June 2010
A PROUD Ely mum has spoken about her heroic soldier son s role in a major operation when fighting in Afghanistan. Captain Owen Candy, who gave life saving treatment to injured comrades, has been mentioned in despatches because of his incredible bravery an
A PROUD Ely mum has spoken about her heroic soldier son's role in a major operation when fighting in Afghanistan.
Captain Owen Candy, who gave life saving treatment to injured comrades, has been mentioned in despatches because of his incredible bravery and quick thinking while under fire.
"I heard about the award a couple of days before it appeared in Despatches and I was very proud and pleased that Owen's work had been recognised," his mum Veronica told the Ely Standard.
"Hearing about what Owen had done was very frightening, and it was so hard to imagine for all of us who are used to sitting at home in comfort."
Cpt Candy was a fire support team commander with 7th Parachute Regiment, taking part in the major Operation Panther's Claw to clear enemy positions in Afghanistan in July 2009.
His job was to coordinate all the indirect fire - mortars, artillery, helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft - on enemy positions.
Thirty-year-old Cpt Candy, who grew up in the district and went to school in Bottisham, joined the Army in 2004. He was mentioned alongside 160 other armed forces personnel who were honoured for their heroism while on active service.
Veronica said: "Owen is a very capable and reliable man and exactly the sort of person you would want around in such a situation as the one the men found themselves in."
The first day of Operation Panther's Claw was marked by multiple explosions from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and exchanges with insurgents, leading to a number of fatalities and casualties. It was to herald the start of eight days of bitter and sustained fighting.
On the evening of the first day, Cpt Candy's company was patrolling on foot through a village when they came under attack from insurgents using rocket-propelled grenades.
While withdrawing, an IED hit Cpt Candy's company headquarters where several men were stationed. It killed one soldier, and severely wounded several others, including the company commander.
The shock of losing their command structure and sustaining yet more casualties hit the company hard, and there was a danger that the soldiers would lose the will to fight.
As the most senior officer left on the ground, Copt Candy took command and withdrew the company to a secure night-time location to rally their spirits.
His leadership meant that the soldiers were mentally and physically ready to fight the following morning, and the enemy suffered a significant number of fatalities during a long and heavy fire-fight.
That evening, after a replacement company commander had been flown in, the headquarters was again hit by an IED - detonating within metres of Cpt Candy - killing one soldier and wounding four others, including the replacement forward air controller.
Undeterred, Cpt Candy again took control, administering first aid and taking charge of the radio at the same time to call in a casualty extraction aircraft.
His citation reads: 'The actions of Candy, his courage, determination and steadfast example of leadership provided an anchor for the company at a very difficult time, as evidenced by its ongoing willingness to take the fight to the enemy. "