Wednesday, July 01, 2009

British Navy Diver Awarded Medal Underwater

It seems only fitting that a man who has dedicated the last 11 years of his life to underwater security receive a service medal 'in the office'.

A Portsmouth-based navy diver was given a surprise long service medal as he trained underwater.

Acting Petty Officer Andy Coulson received the award at the bottom of a Gibraltar swimming pool.

He was in the middle of a two-week exercise on the island, which included stints at the military outdoor swimming pool, when he found himself in the midst of the impromptu ceremony.

The 34-year-old Scot, who is based at Horsea Island, said: 'I was not expecting it.

'I mentioned it in passing several weeks ago that I thought it would be good to receive my medal underwater rather than on the parade ground, but I didn't expect anyone to act on it.

'I'd totally forgotten that I mentioned it, but it's something that will live with me forever – certainly one of the highlights of my 15-year career in the navy.'

As well as a long service medal, the award recognises PO Coulson's good conduct over the years as well.

His boss, Lieutenant Simon Leightley, the officer in charge Southern Diving Unit 2, said: 'Andy's been selected for promotion and will soon embark on his professional qualifying course, so it seemed an appropriate send-off to present his medal "in the office" so to speak. I gave a slightly shorter citation than normal – mostly through bubbles.'

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