A hero in my books

A British security guard who died as he saved the lives of four colleagues in Iraq is to be recommended for Britain's highest civilian honour, the George Cross. Simon Hall and his companions were unarmed when they were overpowered by gunmen near the Kuwait border, bundled into a pick-up truck and taken on a terrifying journey to almost certain death. But the captives launched a daring escape attempt, with Simon heroically grabbing hold of the driver. Though he was shot in the head, his grip on the man was so tight it gave his colleagues the vital time they needed to get away.

Simon had served in the Royal Artillery and was a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War. His group was abducted by insurgents on its way to deliver ambulances and forced at gunpoint into the rear cab of a pick-up truck, with Simon placed behind the driver, who was next to the commander. Four men with automatic weapons were on guard in the rear of the truck and a second vehicle full of insurgents followed. During the journey the men were frequently hit and the Iraqi commander pointed his gun at their faces and made sawing motions across his throat. He screamed in Arabic and made it clear they were going to be murdered. The insurgents kept firing their guns in excitement and struck the SFI men whenever they spoke. The group's only hope was to escape and they made their move when the second vehicle dropped back.

Two men attacked the commander as he leaned out of the window, singing and firing his gun. Simon then grabbed the driver's arms and forced them behind his back as the jeep came to a halt. Then the men grabbed their guards' weapons and turned them on their captors, but the guns initially misfired and Simon was shot. The inquest was told all the survivors praised Simon's courage for acting when he knew that he had a gun pointed at his head. In the ensuing gunfight four insurgents were shot dead and all four of Simon's colleagues were wounded but managed to escape. Daily Mail.

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