A DEDICATED soldier from St Helens who went to the lengths of learning Pashto so he could speak in the native Afghan tongue has been awarded a special gong.
Lance Corporal Alex Morgan, of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards (pictured right), was awarded a Joint Commander’s Commendation for his outstanding peacekeeping work in battle-torn Helmand Province.
The 27-year-old acted as patrol linguist during the Battalion’s recent tour of Afghanistan.
And, having completed an intensive Pashto course before he boarded the plane, he was able to communicate directly with Afghan locals and break down cultural barriers.
L Cpl Morgan said: “I sat an aptitude test and was selected to do the Pashto course. It’s a very different language, but I can hold a conversation now. I can understand what they’re saying and get involved with the banter that they have. The locals have banter like any people do and it kind of breaks down your preconceptions.
“Dealing with the local population everyday I was able to open doors for us that might not have been opened.”
He added: “I interpreted for the Platoon Commander when a local Afghan came to the checkpoint with information about an improvised explosive device (IED). I was able to get the information off him and that led to us finding the IED and maybe saving someone’s life. I feel I’ve made a difference to the local area and possibly bettered the lives of some Afghans.
“It feels amazing. I’m really proud. But I was just part of a team that did a fantastic job out there.”
L Cpl Morgan’s glowing citation described him as having “continuously acted in a manner well above his rank” and said he “undoubtedly saved lives and enabled relationships to be built that without his skills would never have existed.”