Victoria Cross winner plans to quit British Army

September 20th, 2010 - 5:44 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 20 (IANS) A British Army lance corporal, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery, may leave the army at not being allowed to fight in Afghanistan. “If Prince Harry can serve in Afghanistan, why can’t I?” he asked.
Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, 31, became a national hero after risking his life to save a group of wounded soldiers in Iraq.

Beharry received serious wounds to his face, neck and brain while driving an armoured vehicle through an ambush in Iraq in June 2004. Despite his injuries, he retained control of the vehicle and drove it to safety before losing consciousness.

A member of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, he was awarded the Victoria Cross in 2005, the Daily Telegraph reported.

But the soldier has now said he may leave the army over his frustration at not being allowed to fight in Afghanistan. He was “unhappy” with his life in the armed forces and was planning to create a charitable foundation to help wounded soldiers.

Currently working in an army recruiting office in London, Beharry said: “The honest truth is, I’m not happy in the army because I’m not doing the job I joined to do.”

“I didn’t join the army to sit behind a desk. I joined to serve in the infantry. I have been told that I will never serve in combat again.”

“If Prince Harry can serve in Afghanistan, why can’t I? The way I look at it is if I was to get killed doing the job I love - so be it.”

Beharry will be among the heroes to be honoured in a new gallery at the Imperial War Museum which will contain the world’s largest collection of Victoria Crosses.

The Lord Ashcroft Gallery, which is due to open in November, will house the Extraordinary Heroes exhibition which will feature 162 Victoria Crosses collected by Lord Ashcroft and 48 Victoria Crosses and 31 George Crosses in the care of the Imperial War Museum.

The Imperial War Museum has commissioned significant new works for its collections, including a portrait of Beharry by acclaimed war photographer Don McCullin.

Beharry said being the only Victoria Cross winner still serving in the army came with a lot of pressure: “Kids come up to me and recognise me. They say ‘Are you the guy who won the VC?’. That comes with a huge responsibility - I’m only 31 and kids are saying ‘We read about you in our history book’.”

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