An Afghan veteran has sold his gallantry medal for £160,000 which he plans to use to fund a soldiers retreat in the Highlands.
Brad ‘Bugsy’ Malone, 37, sold his ‘Operation Herrick IX – Afghanistan’ Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (C.G.C) which he was awarded when he was section commander with 45 Commando Royal Marines through Noonans auctioneers on Wednesday.
The C.G.C, estimated to be worth between £100,000 and £140,000, was awarded for his involvement on three separate occasions in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2008 but sold under the hammer for £160,000 to a private collector.
Following the sale, which Brad watched from a remote Scottish island, he said: “Wow, I’m overwhelmed. The medal sold for more than the estimate so the additional money plus the money I have been given via my Go Fund Me page, will help give my project Sacred Laoch the best of starts.”
Christopher Mellor-Hill, head of client liaison at Noonans added: “We are delighted to see that Brad’s great story of gallantry has been rewarded with a record price at auction for a C.G.C and that the proceeds will go to such a noble cause to aid the greater good of his former comrades.
“The medal was purchased by a British collector who loans items to go on display.”
Brad left the Royal Marines after 16 years in 2018 and now lives near Loch Lomond.
He joined the Marines at the age of 16 and has been on tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.
He was invested with the C.G.C at Buckingham Palace on December 11, 2009.
In 2010, he was interviewed for Esquire magazine, where he said: “You have to respect the Taliban to a degree because they can be ingenious and adaptable, but we’re ten times better soldiers and fighters than they are. If they fight us, we will win. We proved it time and time again in our area of operations.”
Brad, as part of Zulu Company, operated out of the British-manned Forward Operating Base ‘Gibraltar’ in Helmand Province, near the town of Sangin, which was used to monitor and intercept enemy forces between Gereshk and Sangin.
The base was described by the Taliban as the “mouth of hell’,” or the “devil’s place”.
He distinguished himself on no less than three occasions while on patrols, including: leading a bayonet charge to repel an ambush; rescuing his pinned down troop sergeant from the “killing ground” and lastly when on the receiving end of an IED-initiated ambush.
The final time was on December 31, 2008, when the troop was moving along a narrow but deep waterway.
Shortly after midday, the patrol was caught in an immense explosion. The leading section commander was killed instantly, while in front of him, the point marine was blown across a ditch into an open field and was very seriously wounded.
The third man was Brad who, still clutching his general-purpose machine gun, was hurled backwards off his feet.
Shaken and bruised but otherwise okay, he collected his wits, shouted for two men to come forward to help and then grabbed a radio set to call for support.
He organised the evacuation of casualties and called down artillery and air support whilst affecting the timely withdrawal of his section, all under the heaviest of fire from the enemy.
The news of the award of his C.G.C reached him in an unusual fashion.
A Marine named James Malone was also serving in 45 Commando at the same time as Brad.
Due to a typographical error, James Malone was called into the CO’s office and informed of his award of the C.G.C – with champagne celebration and all.
It shortly became clear, much to the bemusement of all concerned, that the wrong Malone was being decorated. By the time everything had been rectified there was no champagne left for ‘Bugsy’ to celebrate with.