SOLIHULL hero Matt Croucher was awarded the George Cross by the Queen at a Buckingham Palace ceremony yesterday.
The brave Royal Marine Reservist risked his life by throwing himself on a live grenade to save his comrades while fighting against the Taliban in the perilous Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
For his heroism, the 24-year-old former Lance Corporal from Olton was rewarded with the George Cross - the nation's second highest award for gallantry.
It is only awarded "for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger".
Chief of the defence staff air chief marshal Sir Jock Stirrup said: "Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher showed extraordinary bravery, self-sacrifice and devotion to duty.
"He acted to save his comrades in the almost certain knowledge that he would not himself survive.
"His exemplary behaviour and supreme heroism are fully deserving of the nation's highest recognition."
L/Cpl Croucher, became the first reservist to receive either a Victoria Cross or George Cross since current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan began.
He said: "It was quite a shock being told The George Cross is on a par with the Victoria Cross.
"It is a higher medal than I expected to get really for that situation.
"It's a great honour to get that medal but at the same time there are a lot of other heroic acts which go on in Afghanistan which go unnoticed."
Two weeks ago L/Cpl Croucher was granted Solihull Council's highest honour, the Freedom of Solihull.