COURAGEOUS Lance Corporal Ryan Shelley of the Royal Marines received the George Medal for gallantry at Buckingham Palace this week.
The heroic Marine from Solihull was one of five military personnel to receive awards from Prince Charles for heroism in Afghanistan.
L/Cpl Shelley, a medic with 40 Commando Charlie Company, climbed into the burning wreckage of a US helicopter, downed in enemy territory last year, and performed emergency throat surgery on the fatally-injured pilot.
The 26-year-old, who has two young children, repeatedly returned to the blazing helicopter to try to rescue the crew.
“It’s been very emotional but the big thing is that it wasn’t just me there. This is for every one of the lads,” he said.
“The Prince said that I would never catch him in that situation and that it must have been very daunting and what was I thinking going in there?”
His wife Lyndsey, who joined him at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, said: “I’m very proud.”