A SOLDIER who risked life and limb to clear a bridge rigged with explosives has been decorated for his bravery.
Staff Sergeant Russell Neil Power, 34, has been mentioned in dispatches for his gallantry by military chiefs.
Neil, who was brought up in Sultan Street, Accrington, joined the Army straight after leaving The Hollins High School and has never looked back.
He served for five months in war-torn Iraq with the 9th Squadron Parachute Regiment Royal Engineers, based in Aldershot.
Former Peel Park Primary pupil Neil previously served his country in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Macedonia.
He also served for four years in the elite Pathfinders Platoon - one step below the world-famous SAS unit.
While out in the North Ramala oilfield area of Iraq, Neil and a lieutenant were given the task of clearing a bridge full of mines.
The pair managed to complete the mission while under enemy fire and cleared around 500lb of explosives, so enabling their comrades to cross safely.
Neil's mum Jean Blackburn and her husband Norman live in Towneley Avenue, Huncoat.
A former Accrington Army Cadet, Neil now lives in Aldershot with his wife Natalie, a legal secretary, and their two children Kieron, eight, and four-year-old Daniel.
He has two sisters, Debra and Dawn-Marie, and three step-sisters, Rean, Yvonne and Angela.
Proud mum Jean said: "He is absolutely delighted about the honour. He has got a letter from the Chief of Staff and it's fantastic for him. We're all so proud."
His step-dad Norman added: "He never tells us anything until it's over. He doesn't want to worry us. It's great because he's worked so hard.
"But it's not a job to him; he loves doing it and if something needs doing he will jump in and do it."
As part of the honour, Neil will receive a special medal later in the year.