25024243 SGT M D GIBBONS
2nd Bn Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Place HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
Date of action or period covered by the Citation JULY 2006 - APRIL
How employed MORTAR FIRE CONTROLLER
Sergeant Gibbons was the senior Mortar Fire Controller on two
independent Company deployments to Helmand Province from the Cyprus
based Theatre Reserve Battalion. He deployed to the remote District
Compounds in Now Zad and Sangin, both of which were subject to
significant Taliban offensives and under constant attack. He was
responsible for ensuring that the mortar fire vital to the defence
of these two key locations was accurate and that both Company
Group Commanders were provided with timely and accurate advice
about the full spectrum of indirect fire available. During his
second deployment he was seriously wounded by enemy fire and has
since undergone significant surgery to his legs. It is for his
exceptional professionalism, sustained courage and inspirational
leadership that he is to be commended.
Recently promoted and recently qualified, Sergeant
Gibbons was relatively inexperienced for the challenges he would
face before the deployment to Now Zad in July 2006. Despite having
no previous experience of mortaring he showed the natural ability
that would be so important to success in Afghanistan by achieving
a distinction on both of the qualifying courses he attended. Within
three months of this he was tested to the extreme as a professional
mortarman, soldier and leader. After only two days in Afghanistan,
he was instrumental in ensuring the successful deployment of the
mortar section to Now Zad with only one hour's notice. His drive,
enthusiasm and professionalism enabled the mortars to go into
action against the Taliban within minutes of their arrival. Sergeant
Gibbons remained in Now Zad between 15 July and 1 November 2006.
He lived and fought throughout from a shallow trench system constructed
on a hill that dominated the town. The conditions were austere
and highly dangerous. Living only on rations, with minimal water
and without overhead protection, his position experienced over
50 contacts from accurate and sustained direct and indirect fire.
Sergeant Gibbons led by example throughout and, despite the incoming
fire, bravely adjusted accurate fire onto enemy positions, some
within 90 metres of his own forces. In total he controlled over
1200 high explosive rounds and accounted for most of the Taliban
destroyed during the deployment.
Two months after returning, Sergeant Gibbons
was warned to deploy with C Company Group to Sangin. He brought
a wealth of experience from Now Zad to their training, often sacrificing
his personal time to prepare lessons and produced aids that would
be vital for the battle ahead. In Sangin his experience, skill
and courage were once again tested fully. The Taliban offensive
was at its height with four well coordinated, multi-directional
attacks each day. Fully cognisant of the danger he would face,
Sergeant Gibbons showed the same exceptional level of sustained
courage in Sangin. Arriving at the District Compound in contact,
he immediately improved the accuracy of all indirect fire and
rationalised the system used to identify the enemy. This ensured
faster, better coordinated and far more effective reactions to
attacks, and inflicted greater losses on the enemy as a result.
Sergeant Gibbons was seriously wounded after eleven days in Sangin.
During a significant attack by the enemy, he was hit in the legs
by an 82mm Recoilless Rifle round whilst running to his fighting
position. Selflessly he insisted on giving his second-in-command
a full handover briefing before he was evacuated to medical care,
despite the extreme pain and discomfort. His recovery is proving
to be slow and painful; however, he is bearing up exceptionally
well to this ultimate test of character. Indeed, his fight to
regain fitness is an example to all the injured soldiers in the
Sergeant Gibbons provided the exemplary leadership
required to make the indirect fire support so effective at countering
the significant Taliban offensives in both isolated outposts.
His personal example and continuous bravery in the face of sustained
enemy attacks led to tangible successes against the enemy. For
his extraordinary courage and selfless service he is unreservedly
recommended for public recognition.
Signature of Lt Col PW Merriman
Initiating Officer ...............................................................................................................
Date 20 SEP 2007 Place ALEXANDER BARRACKS, DHEKELIA