UK's Prince Charles presents medals to troops who trained Iraqi forces fighting ISIS

The royal pays tribute to British soldiers at a ceremony in Windsor

Prince Charles paid tribute to members of the British Armed Forces after their deployment to Iraq. Getty Images
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Prince Charles presented medals to British troops who were used as part of a mission targeting the ISIS terrorist group in Iraq.

A soldier who found out he was to become a father just before he headed off to Iraq was among those recognised for their services.

Prince Charles, who has been colonel of the Welsh Guards since 1975, presented Operation Shader medals to The Prince of Wales’s Company at Combermere Barracks in Windsor on Tuesday.

Charles watched about 75 members of The Prince of Wales’s Company on parade after presenting medals to about 25 soldiers.

Among those to receive a medal from Prince Charles was Guardsman Ryan Salmon, 28, from Wales, whose father James Salmon received a medal 40 years ago from Prince Charles for his service in the Falklands.

Guardsman Salmon said the Prince of Wales seemed genuinely interested in the mission: “It was an honour to receive a medal off him. My father received a medal from the Falklands war just under 40 years ago.

“It was poignant for me and my family for that to happen.”

The soldier was joined at the ceremony by his parents, partner and six-week old baby girl.

Guardsman Salmon said he found out that his partner was pregnant only when he was in isolation before his trip to Iraq.

“I found out on the first day of isolation, just before I flew out,” he said. “She rang me to tell me the news.”

He said he did not see his partner until he returned to the UK four and a half months later.

Lance Sergeant Ugochukwu Okeke, 39, who is originally from Nigeria, also received a medal from Prince Charles and said his time in Iraq was “really good, I enjoyed every bit of it”.

His wife joined him at the ceremony and he paid tribute to the loved ones who remain at home.

“They do the hard job because they’re the ones that stay behind to hold the fort and look after the family,” he said. “I think they’re the ones, they’re the heroes in this.”

Prince Charles also presented four long service and good conduct medals, and three accumulated service medals to members of the Welsh Guards.

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, including The Prince of Wales’s Company, were deployed on Operation Shader 13 to Iraq, Kuwait and Cyprus between June and December last year.

Operation Shader is the British commitment to the continued defeat of Daesh across the broader Middle East.

The Prince of Wales’s Company were sent to Erbil in the northern Iraq region of Kurdistan.

They undertook tactical vehicle patrols in the region, working to ensure the safety and protection of multi-national partners as they conducted defence engagement with Iraqi partners.

In Baghdad, Kuwait and Cyprus, members of the battalion worked with coalition partners in a range of roles to ensure the success of the defeat of ISIS.

These included training the Iraqi Armed Forces, conducting logistical and resupply operations and working in high-paced operations rooms.

Many members of the battalion were deployed for six months, returning home for a two-week period of rest and recuperation in the middle of their tour.

Upon their return in December 2021, they were met by their families and spent Christmas at home in Wales and Windsor.

A few days after the parade, The Prince of Wales’s Company deploy to Kenya on exercise for six weeks.

The Welsh Guards will be involved in Operation Shader until June 2022.

Updated: March 09, 2022, 2:26 PM