A dog based at the Defence Animal Centre (DAC) in Melton has received the highest bravery award given to animals which serve with the military.
Mali, a Belgian Malinois, was seriously injured while searching for explosives and insurgents during an operation in Afghanistan five years ago.
He has now been awarded the coveted PDSA Dickin Medal for his work in helping the UK forces and its allies secure a key enemy stronghold amid sustained fire.
After receiving emergency treatment for his injuries, Mali returned home and made a full recovery.
He is now retired from front line duties but continues to work at Melton’s DAC, where he and his current handler, Cpl Daniel Hatley, help train new dog handlers.
Cpl Hatley, who trained Mali as a puppy before he was deployed to Afghanistan to work with another handler, whose identity cannot be revealed for security reasons said: “I am extremely proud of Mali.
“The way he conducted himself when it mattered most enabled my colleagues to achieve success in close combat.”
Mali’s bravery took place during a sensitive military operation which lasted more than seven hours.
He was sent through direct fire on two separate occasions to conduct searches for explosives.
Mali also indicated the presence of insurgents numerous times, giving the assault force vital milliseconds to engage the enemy in close quarter combat.
He was hoisted up the outside of the building several times to provide the assault force with a key foothold to attack the insurgents.
The assault force sustained casualties and Mali was badly injured by three grenade blasts, which caused injuries to his chest and legs, the loss of a front tooth and damage to his right ear.
Despite his injuries, Mali continued his duties and pushed forward, remaining close to his handler.
He played a key role in breaking the stalemate that had begun to develop in the building,
Mali and current handler, Cpl Hatley, attended a presentation in London, which fell on the PDSA’s 100th anniversary. Mali’s medal contains a commemorative ‘Centenary’ bar.
The charity’s director general, Jan McLoughlin, said: “Mali has displayed a truly awesome ability and determination to seek out explosives and insurgents during a key operation.
“To achieve this while exposed to close combat and such intense enemy attack, makes him an incredibly worthy recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal.”