For a change of pace, here’s a report on the recent award for bravery given to a Dutch soldier in Afghanistan.
First, a prefatory note from our expatriate Dutch correspondent H. Numan:
The highest decoration of The Netherlands is the Military Order of William (MWO). A decoration that only is awarded for bravery, leadership and loyalty under combat conditions. The last time the MWO was awarded was fifty years ago.
The decoration is open to everybody, including foreigners. Provided they engage in acts of bravery for the Netherlands. Amongst the recipients are the US 82 Airborne division (1944) and the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade (awarded in 2006).
The decoration is attached to the unit’s banner, and individuals are awarded an orange lanyard to wear on their uniforms.
So, for the first time in fifty years this bravery award was bestowed, this time upon Captain Marco Kroon.
Below is H. Numan’s translation of an article from De Telegraaf:
Military Order of William awarded again
TARIN KOWT — Platoon commander Captain Marco Kroon serving in Korps Commandotroepen (KCT) will be elevated on 29 May as knight in the Military Order of William, fourth class. Queen Beatrix awards him for bravery, courage and loyalty. This was announced by Prime Minister Balkenende to the troops in Tarin Kowt.
The 38 year old inhabitant of ‘s Hertogenbosch Marco Kroon led a platoon of commandos during a mission from March until August 2006, in the period Task Force Uruzgan was set up. The men serving under him as well as his superiors mentioned him for this award.
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During his term of six months he was involved along with his platoon in several severe and sometimes lengthy fights, which he concluded in his favor without personal losses. He didn’t shy away from personal risks, for example by helping wounded allied soldiers out of battle. On another occasion he lead his unit fighting out of an ambush, while the gunner of his vehicle was wounded.
The deeds mentioned in the nomination were reason for Minister of Defense Elmert van Middelkoop asked the College of the Military Order of William for advice. Based on that advice the minister asked the College to ask the Queen to award Capt. Kroon the bravery decoration.
Capt. Kroon receives his award for several special actions and for his leadership as a captain, a soldier and a human being. “We should be proud about heroes such as this captain” said prime minister Balkenende. Middelkoop also praises Capt. Kroon as a hero.
H. Numan adds this afterword:
It’s nice to see this rare award is granted. Being somewhat negative, I feel that this somehow has to do with the trouble over the Dutch presence in Afghanistan, to be investigated by a parliamentary enquiry, the recent canards of minister Middelkoop and the sheer invisibility of the prime minister during the last six months.
My congratulations to Captain Kroon!