A SELFLESS act of bravery in which Solihull marine Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher dived on top of a live grenade to save his comrades, has won the hero a George Cross.
The 24-year-old reservist should have been killed after he triggered a trip wire while on patrol in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
But miraculously, his rucksack and body armour absorbed most of the blast and he survived with only minor injuries.
The former Lyndon School pupil said: "All I could do in the moment was shout out 'grenade' before diving on top of it.
"The shrapnel would have gone off with a shotgun effect and spread, so I probably would have been hit anyway if I'd tried to get away.
"So I thought the thing to do was to get on top, I thought I didn't have much hope anyway but it might give others a chance."
His three companions suffered just cuts and bruises while L/Cpl Croucher was blown in the air.
"It was just a personal choice, training I think was a part of it too," the modest L/Cpl told the News on Thursday.
"I still cannot believe that I escaped so lightly. All I had at the end was a nose bleed and a headache."
He was awarded the George Cross on Wednesday for what was described as an act of "extraordinary bravery and sacrifice" and is one of only 20 living recipients of the award.
His mum Margaret, aged 55, received a text from her son, which read: "Being put forward for a citation, might meet the Queen."
She said she was "immensely proud" of her son while father, Richard, 57, described him as a very "lucky man".
L/Cpl Croucher, who now works as a director for a security management company, is expected to receive his medal from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in the autumn.
Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Jock Stirrup said: "He acted to save his comrades in the most certain knowledge that he would not himself survive.
"His exemplary behaviour and extreme heroism are fully deserving of the nation's highest recognition."