https://legionmagazine.com/en/2021/02/n ... ria-cross/Private Jess Randall Larochelle of the Royal Canadian Regiment was in an observation post when it was destroyed by a rocket-propelled grenade during an enemy attack on the position in Pashmul, Afghanistan. It was Oct. 14, 2006.
Manning a C6 machine gun—known as “the bullet magnet” because the enemy always looks to disable it first—Larochelle was knocked unconscious by the blast. Two members of his section were killed and three others wounded.
Some time later, Larochelle came to and quickly realized his unit’s position was about to be overrun. He didn’t know it yet, but his back was broken. Bloodied and battered, his ears ringing from the concussive blast, his years of training took over.
Larochelle crawled back to the machine gun to defend his position, only to find the weapon had been destroyed.
“Beside him are 15 unused M72 rocket launchers,” wrote his comrade in arms, retired corporal Bruce Moncur. “Think about how fortunate he was that none of them detonated, and how dangerous it could have been to fire them if they had been bent or damaged.”
Oblivious to the risk, the Callander, Ont., native started pulling off the rubber stoppers on the 15 single-shot rocket launchers, extending the disposable tubes and taking aim.
The weapon was devastatingly effective. Taliban fighters were blown to pieces with each shot, their body parts flying in all directions. Other enemy fighters were unnerved by the sights and sounds around them and they began a scattered retreat.
Larochelle’s actions saved the lives of the remainder of his section. He was awarded the Star of Military Valour.
“Although he was alone, severely injured, and under sustained enemy fire in his exposed position at the ruined observation post, he aggressively provided covering fire over the otherwise undefended flank of his company’s position,” said his citation. “Private Larochelle’s heroic actions permitted the remainder of the company to defend their battle positions and to successfully fend off the sustained attack of more than 20 insurgents.
“His valiant conduct saved the lives of many members of his company.”
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