A bomb disposal expert, hailed by his commanding officer as "the most courageous man" he had ever met, is to receive a posthumous George Cross.
Staff Sgt Olaf Schmid's gallantry award, second only to the Victoria Cross, will be announced by the Ministry of Defence on Friday, say military sources. He was killed five months ago while working in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt Schmid, 30, of the Royal Logistic Corps and who was serving with 2 Rifles Battle Group, was killed on October 31 as he dealt with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in the Sangin region of Helmand province.
He died instantly when the device he was defusing detonated. He had previously disarmed 64 roadside bombs in five months.
The George Cross was instituted 1940 by George VI and is awarded in recognition of "acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger". Until now, the medal has been awarded 159 times in 70 years.
The medal is the most prestigious award that can be made for an act of bravery not in the face of the enemy. It was originally dubbed "the civilian VC" but in fact it has also been awarded to scores of servicemen.
Update 1051 18 Mar: According to this article from the MOD Defence News, two George Crosses will be awarded.
Two British military bomb disposal experts, one of whom gave his life in the line of duty, have been awarded one of the UK's highest awards for gallantry, the George Cross.
At a special ceremony in London today, Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup confirmed that Staff Sergeant Kim Hughes and his fallen colleague the late Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid are to have the gallantry award bestowed upon them.
The George Crosses will be presented in a Royal investiture at a later date.
These honours are part of Operational Awards List 34, the remainder of which will be announced tomorrow, Friday, 19 March 2010.
Staff Sergeant Kim Hughes and the late Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid, both from the Royal Logistic Corps were deployed to Helmand Province as part of 19 Light Brigade, which was deployed to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 10 between March and November 2009.
SSgt Hughes's actions are described in his citation as "the single most outstanding act of explosive ordnance disposal ever recorded in Afghanistan."
The article linked to gives details on the actions for which the medals are to be awarded.