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Rare American decoration for British sailor Flash for efforts in the Gulf

1 June 2023
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Not only is he saviour of the universe but he’s highly appreciated by the Americans for his expertise in mine warfare.

Decorated for his services to the international effort to maintain peace and security in the Gulf region is Chief Petty Officer Lewis ‘Flash’ Gordon.

The US Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal – commonly referred to simply as the Navy Achievement medal or NAM – is presented to US sailors, marines and Coast Guard personnel who have performed “meritorious service or achievement in either combat or non-combat situations based on sustained performance or specific achievement of a superlative nature”.

It’s rarely presented to non-Americans, but the staff of Combined Task Force 52, which oversees mine warfare and associated operations in the region – felt Flash’s commitment to the cause over the past 12 months deserved particular recognition.

Originally from Clevedon in Somerset but now living in Portsmouth, Flash spent a week aboard the USS Dextrous earlier this year as the minehunter took part in one of the world’s largest multi-national naval exercises, IMX23.

There he trained his US counterparts in the operation of Seafox, mainstay of minehunting operations in the Royal Navy for a good decade now, and key to identifying and neutralising explosive devices found on the seabed.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time aboard USS Dextrous and would encourage anyone else who gets the opportunity to serve aboard a US ship to relish it.

CPO Gordon

With Flash’s help, Dextrous’ crew were able to increase the amount of Seafox ‘flights’ and helped the team fix a fault in the launch cable, displaying ingenuity and quick thinking in the process.

US officers said Flash’s ‘exceptional professionalism, perseverance, and dedication to duty’ and reflected well on both himself and the Royal Navy.

“It is an honour and a privilege to be awarded the Achievement Medal,” said CPO Gordon. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time aboard USS Dextrous and would encourage anyone else who gets the opportunity to serve aboard a US ship to relish it.”

The senior rating serves with the Mine Warfare Battle Staff, a small team of experts who direct the operations of all three of the Royal Navy’s minehunters – His Majesty’s Ships Bangor, Chiddingfold and Middleton – from ‘mother ship’ RFA Cardigan Bay.

His six-month tour of duty in the Gulf also saw him heavily involved in the security mission surrounding the 2022 World Cup finals, which demanded an international effort supporting the host nation Qatar in ensuring the festival of football ran smoothly.

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