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22 March 2013, 07:37 | Updated: 22 March 2013, 08:17
A female army medic from Haverhill has been given a prestigious military award for bravery.
20-year-old Lance Corporal Abbie Martin has been awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service after bravely ignoring Taliban bullets to treat a dying colleague on her very first patrol.
When deployed to Afghanistan last year she thought she would be working in hospitals. But because of a lack of medics she was soon attached to the 1st Battalion the Grenadier Guards and sent out on patrol.
On April 26th her company was ambushed on River Helmand in southern Afghanistan. Hearing "man down'' on her radio the medic, who was a private at the time, ran to treat his chest wounds as bullets blasted into a wall behind her.
Lance Corporal Abbie Martin said: "I have never been so scared in my life. Nobody can prepare you for being shot at. When you hear the whizz going past your head you think 'What am I doing here?' But you are the medic so you have to get there and save the person's life.''
L/Cpl Martin's citation reads: "Due to the severity of his wounds, Martin remained with the Guardsman throughout the casualty extraction, selflessly exposing herself to enemy fire in order to ensure that the clinical handover of the evacuating helicopter crew gave him the best possible chance of survival.''
Sadly, the Guardsman later died.
Recovering later, L/Cpl Martin said she never wanted to go back out on patrol: "It was my first patrol, I was quite naive and didn't know what to expect''.
"I remember thinking I am never going back again, not a chance. But they need me. They need me and I need them. When I am scared in the contact I look at their faces (comrades') and they are scared as well. They look petrified despite being hard. We are all in it together.''
Several days later L/Cpl Martin, who describes herself as a "girly girl'', helped save the lives of six casualties injured in a grenade blast.
Reacting to the honour, she said: "It's really nice, I feel proud to have it. Looking around the room I felt I didn't deserve to be there with so many amazing stories. My mum was so proud, she called me this morning crying. I am so in shock. I'm a little girly girl so I didn't think I would achieve anything in the Army.''
Adding that she wanted to become an Army medic to help people after helping her dad Michael and brother Luke, who have disabilities, L/Cpl Martin said it was "a great week'' with her mum, Julie Martin, getting the all clear after suffering from cancer.