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Soldier Takes Bullet to Save Afghan Child’s Life

December 19, 2010

The actions of a Devon soldier, who took a bullet himself to save the life of a small child, have shown the difference between British courage and Taliban evil.

Lance Corporal Craig Murfitt, a rifleman and medic serving in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, demonstrated nerves of steel and the coolest of clear heads in a startling sequence of events, after being called to assist other soldiers during a recent patrol

Lance Corporal Murfitt

The 25-year-old, serving with the Tidworth-based 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, was amongst a crew of soldiers patrolling in one of the Army’s new Warthog armoured vehicles. They were out on a routine security patrol, providing reassurance to local communities, when suddenly they were re-tasked to reinforce infantry colleagues who been pinned down by fire from hidden insurgents and needed urgent back-up.

Lance Corporal Murfitt – from Barnstaple in Devon and known to Army mates as ‘Murf’ – picks up the story:

“It had been a pretty standard patrol but, when the call came in and we were re-tasked, we were told to get in there fast and provide support. I was in the rear half of my Troop Sergeant’s vehicle ready to give precision fire with my rifle, and the driver stepped on it to get there as quickly as possible.

“Our arrival, with our heavy firepower, seemed to bring the fight to an end fairly quickly, but we stayed alert. Everything was quiet, but then I spotted three men with a child on a compound roof, about 300 yards to the front of the vehicles.

“Suddenly two of the men moved off, leaving one man with the child – it was a girl, no more than 10-years-old. At this point I realised something was wrong – the man picked up a rifle and moved behind the child, taking aim at me.”

LCpl Murfitt immediately told his commander that he could identify a possible insurgent who was using a child as a shield and taking aiming at his vehicle. He was faced by a dilemma: he could protect himself and engage the insurgent but, if he did that, he could not guarantee that the child would be unhurt. Making a split-second call, ‘Murf’ took the decision to wait.

LCpl Murfitt continued:

“I knew I could take him down but, being a dad myself, I didn’t want to run the risk of killing a kid and undoing all the good work we’ve achieved. So I waited, hoping that the child would drop down and give me a clear shot.”

But then, as he was waiting for the moment to strike without putting the girl’s life at risk, the insurgent fired a single shot – it struck LCpl Murfitt on the left hand side of his helmet knocking him to the floor. His state-of-the-art Mark 7 Combat Helmet, which has saved so many lives before in Helmand, took the force of the bullet. ‘Murf’ was uninjured, but left on his back, on the floor of the vehicle, dazed and seeing stars.

He explained:

“I felt the dent in my helmet and said to the others, ‘I’ve been shot in the head but I’m fine’. I tried to stand up but I had disco legs and just had to sit down again for a bit!”

Despite being shaken, LCpl Murfitt kept his cool and managed to signal to the vehicle gunners where the shooter was. The child had run off as soon as the shot was fired, giving the quick-thinking troops the chance to strike without endangering the girl.

LCpl Murfitt added:

“As I sat back, and started to take in what had happened, I heard automatic fire as the Warthogs engaged the insurgent.”

Following the incident, ‘Murf’ was straight back out on patrol with his colleagues, showing his dedication to making life better for the Afghan people. Like all soldiers serving in Afghanistan, he knows that the key to success is convincing the population to trust the Afghan government and the Afghan National Security Forces they are in the process of training.

As a medic as well as a rifleman, ‘Murf’ enjoys helping locals by providing first aid to them, as well as playing his part in bringing about improved security in their communities.

Lance Corporal Murfitt tends to a local child

Lance Corporal Murfitt and his Tank Regiment comrades – known as Tankies – are specifically tasked with protecting infantry soldiers and engineers working on the development of a major road in central Helmand. This task is critical to improving trade and general living conditions for the people in the area, but it is difficult and dangerous. There is a constant threat of attacks from insurgents, who view the road as a threat to their control over people’s lives.

The Warthog armoured vehicle, in which the soldiers patrol, is the newest vehicle in British service. Warthog is a great vehicle for the job with good armour, heavy weaponry and outstanding cross-country performance.

‘Murf’ has already fought in Afghanistan with the Royal Tank Regiment once before – in 2007, when he was also a pioneer of a new vehicle, becoming one of the first soldiers to use the heavily armoured Mastiff.

He says that, while it’s tough in Helmand, the love and support from his family at home makes things tolerable. When his tour comes to an end next year, LCpl Murfitt looks forward to getting home to his family in Barnstaple: his baby boy Finlay and wife Erica, who also serves in the British Army, with 32 Regiment, Royal Artillery.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Richard Bonfield permalink
    December 19, 2010 14:22

    As the report so eloquently said ” The actions of a Devon soldier, who took a bullet himself to save the life of a small child, have shown the difference between British courage and Taliban evil”.

    As a retired Infantry Solider i would like to congratulate all members of the Armed Forces on there operational tours wherever they may be serving, Rest assured the British public are extremely proud of what you do and what you stand for.

    One final comment keep safe and gods speed home to your loved ones

  2. Mary Francis permalink
    December 19, 2010 14:51

    My son is also serving in Afghanistan and reading stories such as this one about Murf makes me so proud of our servicemen and women and also bring em great comfort knowing that the equipment they are used is saving their lives.
    The humanity that this young man as shown is quite humbling and a wonderful example of the training that our troops receive.
    God bless Murf and all the men and women out there.
    Stay safe and come home to a heroes welcome.

  3. December 19, 2010 15:50

    Excellent. Know that I appreciate what you and your mates are doing. Watch your “six”.

  4. casey cunningham permalink
    December 19, 2010 15:51

    Well done, LCpl Murfitt! This is the type of heroism that will win the hearts of the Afghanis. You are an amazing man and I am happy to call you Brits our Allies!

  5. Jan permalink
    December 19, 2010 19:34

    I have two sons in the forces, each has been to Afghanistan. The courage of our lads knows no bounds. You are an amazing person Murf, may the rest of your tour pass swiftly & safely until you return home to your family, I feel so proud of you & all our boys & girls out there. x

  6. Ann White permalink
    December 19, 2010 22:30

    Well doneCraig ! Thank goodness for the better helmets
    Hop the others found their targets

  7. Sudarshan permalink
    December 19, 2010 23:50

    Why are you guys in Afghanistan again?

    • dave permalink
      December 21, 2010 09:15

      9-11!

    • December 25, 2010 10:51

      A gunman is using a 10 year old girl as a human shield and you need to ask that question?

      Well done LCpl Murfitt! I’m awed by your bravery!

      • Mary Francis permalink
        December 25, 2010 14:47

        You couldnt not have worded that any better Chris! Hear, hear!!

  8. Erica Murfitt permalink
    December 20, 2010 01:39

    craig is my husband and father of our 8 week old son i am so so proud of him he means the world to us. his actions dont suprise me as its typical craig! all his family and friends send our love. thinking about you every day craig. xx

  9. Pam permalink
    December 20, 2010 04:30

    As a very proud US Army mom, I completely appreciate what this brave soldier did. Something tells me that this is just his general character. Always putting others first. My son is also currently serving in Afghanistan. Thank you Great Britain for the integrity and caliber of your soldiers. We will see this through by our united forces. God Bless You All!!

  10. December 20, 2010 06:50

    God bless the Brits and this hero…a Dad himself. We are proud to stand side by side with such valor and integrity to save a young girl’s life like this…wow.
    If any Brits need care packages…ever…let us know just email Adoptions@HomefrontHugs.org

  11. Barry Sheridan permalink
    December 20, 2010 16:51

    This shows remarkable self control. Very impressive. Thank God the soldier survived what was a very close call.

    To all our troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere, I will say a silent prayer for you all and your families during this special season. In the meantime keep your heads down and do not think your service is undervalued, those of here know you represent the very best of this nation.

  12. Shakil Chaudhri permalink
    December 20, 2010 18:19

    I am so proud of the efforts of the British Troops who are looking after our intrest, and proud of those mothers,fathers Husbands ,wifes ,brothers,sisters and Grand Parents who have brought up these fine young men and ladies.

    I will like to congratulate LCpl Murfitt! for the courage he has shown.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May you all return to your families safe and sound.

  13. RonF permalink
    December 22, 2010 00:24

    This soldier did a brave and moral thing that should win him the admiration of all civilized peoples.

    “This is the type of heroism that will win the hearts of the Afghanis.”

    The truth of this statement, however, has yet to be demonstrated.

  14. December 22, 2010 00:27

    I salute this great man, his mates and his family. In our thoughts, always. Walk safe, all of you.

  15. December 22, 2010 01:48

    Now that’s a Soldier.

  16. December 22, 2010 12:22

    “The cruel-tyrant-sergeants they watch ‘im ‘arf a year;
    They watch ‘im with ‘is comrades, they watch ‘im with ‘is beer;
    They watch ‘im with the women at the regimental dance,
    And the cruel-tyrant-sergeants send ‘is name along for “Lance”.”

    Lance Corporal Murfitt is an outstanding example of the non-commissioned man. God bless you, sir, and if you’re ever near Cincinnati, Ohio, I’ll buy you a beer.

  17. Pete Kelly permalink
    December 31, 2010 18:44

    Well done that man! As a former Tankie (Albeit from 1RTR not 2), it’s good to see the Men In Black doing a good job as always no matter what the challenge. It’s a shame the MOD /Government haven’t sent the Tankies weapon of choice to Helmand – i’m sure Terry Taliban would love to get the chance to look down the business end of a Challenger 2’s main armament!

    Fear Naught L/Cpl Murfitt, and safe return to your loved ones.

  18. andrew mulligan permalink
    December 31, 2010 21:44

    As a x 2nd RTR myself i salute u lcpl Murfitt your one brave soldier .U pluss the rest of the forces over there stay safe and have a great new year . tight tracks mate

  19. Jenny Rawlings permalink
    January 5, 2011 23:17

    Craig is my great Nephew (in more ways than one!) We are a large family and very close. We are all very proud of him. His dad is of a similar calibre and fought in the Falklands, so he is keeping up the family tradition. We look forward to your safe return. This was your second unpleasant encounter,let us hope it is your last. With love

  20. Lois Black. permalink
    January 6, 2011 00:19

    As my great nephew I am very proud of you . You are all doing such a wonderful job out there. It was a very brave soldier that put his life on the line to save a poor innocent child. Well done Craig . Hope to see you home safely and with your loving family soon. Love Aunty Lois xx

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