A former Bracknell Town player who was a key member of the club’s Allied Counties Youth League side that won the South Division by a point from Binfield in 2014/15 is to be honoured for his bravery.
25-year-old Private Lewis O’Connor – who also played for Bracknell Rugby Club – of the 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) was helping evacuate Afghans and British Nationals from Kabul during Operation Pitting in September 2021.
O’Connor – who played the same Allied Counties side as the likes of Dan Roberts and George Lock – has been honoured with a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery. The citation for the award reads: “Against expert advice and fully aware that a secondary explosion or attack was possible, he jumped down into the canal and waded to the far bank to reach a grievously injured Afghan man lying on the far side. Single-handedly, he lifted the man out of the water and up onto the wall so he could receive critical medical care.”
Speaking to BerkshireLive, Lewis said: “When I arrived after the bomb it was chaos, but my training kicked in and my first thought was to prevent further injuries and save lives. I jumped straight into the canal to pull an injured person out and then searched in the canal for other casualties.
“We were warned that there could be another IED, but for me it felt like the right thing to do to ignore that risk to try and help people. I don’t see what I did as bravery, I just did my job; anyone else in our Company would have done the same.”
O’Connor played through the age groups at Bracknell Town and also featured for Bracknell Cavaliers.