Not many people can throw themselves onto a live ordinance and be able to talk about the experience. One Royal Marine happens to be an anomaly.
In 2008, Royal Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher was in Afghanistan with the 40 Commando Group. The team was raiding a bomb maker’s compound one night in Sanguin when he hit a tripwire.
Croucher heard the grenade spring up and hit the ground. Then, yelling “grenade” and “tripwire” to warn the rest of his team, he flung himself on top of the grenade.
In an interview with the Independent, he said, “The wire was tight against my leg, just under my knee. You know instinctively what it is, what it means. Then I heard the grenade drop, right next to me.”
At first, he jumped on top of it on his stomach, but soon he realized that it would not work. So he decided to flip over and cover the grenade with his back which had his rucksack.
He gave very little thought to what exactly would happen next. The grenade exploded.
The rucksack was torn apart, and Croucher’s armor and helmet were covered in shrapnel and fragments. He said the equipment burned “like a flare.”
However, his armor and helmet likely are the reason he is alive. When the doctors checked him out, they said he was incredibly lucky only to have had a headache and a nosebleed.
He did not even realize he was not dead until about 30 seconds after detonation. Then, for his immense courage and bravery, he was presented with the George Cross, a medal awarded when there is an act of courage, but the enemy is not there.
Queen Elizabeth II gave him the medal. He wrote a memoir called “Bulletproof” talking about his time in Sangin.
His book caused a bit of an issue with the Ministry of Defense. UK troops are not allowed to write about their time serving, but Croucher is a reservist. He was investigated, but the Ministry of Defense changed their minds once they faced media scrutiny.