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Latest News

Royal Gibraltar Regiment officers recognised in Operational Honours

Published Thursday 8th September 2005

In Gibraltar: Major Colin Risso (left) receives the Military Cross (MC) and Major John Perez MBE receives the American Bronze Star Medal, both are members of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment [Picture: Royal Gibraltar Regiment]
In Gibraltar: Major Colin Risso (left) receives the Military Cross (MC) and Major John Perez MBE receives the American Bronze Star Medal, both are members of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment [Picture: Royal Gibraltar Regiment] Major Colin Risso with American servicemen in Afghanistan [Picture: Army]
Major Colin Risso with American servicemen in Afghanistan [Picture: Army] Major John Perez MBE, with binoculars, on operations in Iraq [Picture: Army]
Major John Perez MBE, with binoculars, on operations in Iraq [Picture: Army]

Major Colin Risso and Major John Perez MBE of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment have both received awards in the latest Operational Honours List, published on 9 September 2005, for their presence of mind whilst serving on operations last year.

Major Risso, Officer Commanding G Company, has been awarded the Military Cross for the actions he took when his convoy came under attack in Afghanistan.  Major Perez has been awarded the American Bronze Star award for meritorious service on a high intensity combat zone during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Major Colin Risso was serving as the Plans Officer in the Combined Joint Task Force in Bagram, Afghanistan when the convoy he was travelling in came under heavy attack in a narrow wadi.  An extract from his Military Cross citation reads:

"Despite the hail of small arms fire, including rounds coming into the rear where he was seated and the Rocket Propelled Grenade explosions around the vehicles, Major Risso identified the main threat from the right flank and immediately engaged the enemy with an M16 rifle, a weapon he was unfamiliar with.  The HUMVEES were unable to put down fire, their grenade launchers having jammed and, putting down a rapid rate of fire, Major Risso could sense the desperate situation.

"Running short of ammunition he also took the Colonel's M4 rifle to maintain a high rate of suppressive fire on the enemy positions. Using both weapons and stocks of ammunition in the vehicle he maintained this rate of fire expending over 150 rounds to allow the Colonel to gain control of the convoy and begin to co-ordinate its extraction."

After a fierce firefight lasting 10 minutes, Major Risso assisted in the loading of casualties onto the medical evacuation helicopter, and helped focus the remaining soldiers on defence from further attacks. 

Upon hearing that he had been awarded the Military Cross (MC), Major Risso said:

"I am absolutely overwhelmed at being awarded a Military Cross.  It is good news for the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and Gibraltar as well.  I enjoyed working alongside US Forces and Afghanistan is a beautiful country.  However, the best reward has been the birth of my second child the day after I arrived back home."

Major John Perez, Second in Command of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, has been awarded an American Bronze Star Award for his outstanding service as a forward operator alongside American Forces in Iraq.  He was the Officer Commanding a 300-strong Coalition Military Advisory Team in a training camp North of Baghdad, under the constant threat of bombardment and hostile action against Coalition forces who were supporting the new Iraqi Army against the insurgency. 

His team consisted of British, American, Australian and Jordanian Forces, involved in training the Iraqi soldiers to support joint Iraqi-coalition operations around Baghdad, often under dangerous situations.  Major Perez remains the only British officer to have lead a United States Marine Corps unit in Iraq.  He was further responsible for setting up, and the tactical instruction of, the Iraqi Intervention Force who fought alongside the US Marines within the more dangerous areas around Baghdad.  He gave vital advice, conducting evaluations on the ground to guide the Iraqi forces to success.

The US Army have invited Maj Perez to Washington to be presented his Bronze Star Award later this year, in the presence of the United States Marine Corps.  Uniquely, Her Majesty the Queen has granted him the privilege to wear his award, conferred to him by the President of the United States of America.

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