The “special relationship” between the U.S. and the U.K. endures through both times of peace and times of conflict, when we most need the friendships and support of our staunchest allies. One British soldier’s story should be particularly celebrated here in the U.S., for it embodies the unmatched value of the bilateral partnership on the battlefield.

Leakey’s story celebrates, in the best possible way, the value of our Anglopshere battle partners — British, Canadian and Australian troops who have served by our side in the Middle East and in other critical conflicts throughout our nation’s history.

A few weeks ago Queen Elizabeth bestowed her nation’s highest military honor — the Victoria Cross, which has never before been awarded to a living solider in the Afghanistan conflict -- on British paratrooper Joshua Leakey, who risked his life multiple times to save an American Marine officer.

Leakey’s story celebrates, in the best possible way, the value of our Anglopshere battle partners — British, Canadian and Australian troops who have served by our side in the Middle East and in other critical conflicts throughout our nation’s history.

According to the BBC, Leakey “showed ‘complete disregard’ for his own safety during a Taliban attack in Afghanistan,” where “despite coming under fire from [20 insurgents armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades], L/Cpl Leakey twice came to the aid of a wounded U.S. Marine Corps captain and helped forces regain the initiative after they had been pinned down by fire and surrounded by insurgents…. During the battle, 11 insurgents were killed and four were wounded.”  

In a statement provided by the Marine Corps, Marine Capt. Brian Bocian, the injured American officer Leakey saved, said: "The fact that he chose to leave his position to help me speaks to his courage and character …. I am happy to hear that he is being formally recognized. He deserves it."

According to the Military Times, Bocian, on his second tour in Afghanistan, said Leakey “ran back across the hillside to help him with his wound. Leakey then ran across to receive ammunition and equipment before returning to Bocian. Leakey stayed with Bocian until he was loaded on the medevac helicopter — the last time they would see each other.” 

Considering the two were not even serving from the same nation’s command, Leakey’s heroism is truly a testament to Anglo-American comrades-in-arms.

Brits and Yanks fighting side-by-side is hardly a new phenomenon.

A 2012 fact sheet on the White House’s website noted: “A century of shared battlefield experience has led to a level of interoperability and familiarity that is unique in its breadth. This is exemplified in Afghanistan today where the U.S. and U.K. are the two largest contributors to ISAF, and our Armed Forces are working together to degrade the insurgency and to train and mentor the Afghan Forces to provide security in Afghanistan.” 

Britain’s great statesman baptized the U.S.-U.K. partnering a “special relationship” during the waning years of World War II. 

Subsequently, in his “Sinews of Peace Address” in Fulton, Mo., delivered 69 years ago this month, Churchill expressed just how important and interdependent our respective alliance was when he spoke of “…not only the growing friendship and mutual understanding between our two vast but kindred systems of society, but the continuance of the intimate relationship between our military advisers, leading to common study of potential dangers, the similarity of weapons and manuals of instructions, and to the interchange of officers and cadets…”

While the U.S. and Britain have a long and storied past fighting together, we must not lose sight of the contributions of individual war fighters like L/Cpl Leakey who remind us of the incredible debt we owe all of our allied soldiers — those who fought, died, returned, and those who remain. 

Leakey’s story celebrates, in the best possible way, the value of our Anglopshere battle partners — British, Canadian and Australian troops who have served by our side in the Middle East and in other critical conflicts throughout our nation’s history.

While the armed presence of U.S., U.K. and other allied troops in the Middle East conflicts dwindles, we must remain mindful of the service of our military personnel who continue to serve valiantly in that corrosive region, and grateful for the service of those coalition forces who fight valiantly by our side. 

Lee Cohen, head of the New York office of Off the Record Strategies and New York Director of The Anglosphere Society, spent years advising the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Western European affairs, and was founding Executive Director of the House United Kingdom Caucus.