Bravery award to Tony Leahy
ROYAL Navy sailor Tony Leahy will remember his 26th birthday for two special reasons.
He took part in yesterday's chase which led to the capture of two speedboats and two smugglers, and he learned he had won a top bravery award.
Tony will receive the Queen's Gallantry Medal for his heroics in tackling machete-and pole-wielding smugglers last October.
He shot and wounded two smugglers after a high-speed chase south of Kau Yi Chau.
A crew member of HMS Peacock, Tony dived on to the tai fei as his fast pursuit craft chased the vessel at speeds of up to 60 knots.
As he tried to cut the fuel lines to the five outboard motors, he was attacked by two of the crew.
''The one with the bamboo pole hit me a couple of times but I managed to avoid the machete,'' he said.
Although he warned them and drew his Browning 9 mm pistol, the two continued their assault. He fired at one, hitting him in the arm and causing him to fall overboard.
The gun jammed after a second shot and Tony again turned and tried to sever the fuel lines but the second smuggler continued his attack.
''I managed to get the gun unjammed and fired one shot at him, which hit him in the leg, and he fell over the side of the speedboat.'' With the vessels's engines still running, Tony then overpowered the two remaining smugglers and sailed the vessel back to the fast pursuit craft.
The smugglers were jailed for 18 months each.