Bomb search teams receive new badge in parade at Carver Barracks

SOLDIERS who risk their lives searching for unexploded bombs have been the first to receive a newly-created badge to commend their bravery.

The Search Badge was handed to over 100 soliders from 101 and 33 Engineer Regiments, based at Carver Brracks, who returned from Afghanistan in March, during a parade at the Wimbish base on Tuesday. All of them volunteered to be part of the search team.

The servicemen and women have arguably the most dangerous job in Afghanistan – finding improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the unstable Helmand Province.

The badge is oval in design and carries the word ‘search’ at its base with an eye and flame above it to represent the search work.

Cpl Lee Murnane was extremely proud to receive the badge after his task force uncovered a huge haul of IEDs.

“It was an extremely busy tour especially for the counter-IED task force,” he told the Reporter. “We made the biggest find of IEDs in Afghanistan at that time – two IED factories with around 70 explosives in them. We conducted a controlled explosion to dispose of the majority and also sent some back for analysis.”

It was also the “bloodiest tour” for Cpl Murnane, who lost a close friend.

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“It’s one of those things that hits you hard for a few days but you have to put it to the back of your mind and get on with your job because other people are relying on you,” added Cpl Murnane.

Sapper Toby Ecclestone, 23, was on of those who returned from his first tour of the Middle East.

He said: “Going to Afghanistan is a double-edged sword because you feel good for being out there helping but there is also the possibility that you might get hurt.

“After an incident there is always a level of shock but you have to get through it and help every one else get through it as well.”

Staff Sargeant Stuart Allen, a search advisor, believes the Armed Forces are winning the war in Afghanistan, with accident rates falling and the number of discovered IEDs increasing.

“I was really impressed with the team, most of whom volunteer for a service which provides no extra pay,” he said.

“They did not need motivation which is down to the training and equipment they receive. Due to this they are confident to go out and find explosives.

“We are now passing our expertise to the Afghan army and police so they have the knowledge to continue what we have started when the services are pulled out in a few years.”

Speaking about the badge and presentation, commanding officer of 8 Force Engineer Brigade, Brigadier Alistair Dickinson, said: “This recognises the work of the High Assurance Search Teams and their advisors. To do this all day, everyday, for six months demands a certain kind of mettle – a persistent courage. And it is right that their commitment to this dangerous work is recognised.”

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