Johnson Beharry (Lance Corporal Johnson Gideon Beharry VC) joined the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment in August 2001. After training at Catterick, he became a driver of Warrior armoured vehicles in C Company, 1st Battalion. Prior to Iraq, he served for six months in Kosovo and three months in Northern Ireland.
Whilst in Iraq Johnson twice saved members of his unit from ambushes on 1 May and again on 11 June 2004: he sustained serious head injuries in the process.
Beharry was formally invested with the Victoria Cross by Queen Elizabeth II on 27 April 2005. He is the first recipient of the Victoria Cross since the posthumous awards to Lieutenant Colonel H. Jones and Sergeant Ian John McKay for service in the Falklands War in 1982. He is the first living recipient of the VC since Keith Payne and Rayene Stewart Simpson, both Australian, for actions in Vietnam in 1969, and the first living recipient of the VC in the British Army since Rambahadur Limbu, a Gurkha, in the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation in 1965.
He is one of only 7 living recipients of the Victoria Cross, and the youngest.
On 18 September 2005 it was reported in the press that Beharry had obtained a publishing deal worth £1m to write an autobiography of his experiences.
In February 2007 his portrait was presented to the National Portrait Gallery in London by the artist Emma Wesley (born the same year as Beharry) and has since become part of the gallery’s collection.
On 11 November 2008 Beharry acted as an escort to 110 year-old Harry Patch, then one of only three remaining British survivors of World War I, at the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended that conflict.
In March 2011, Beharry competed in the 2011 season of Dancing on Ice. He was partnered with Canadian ice skater Jodeyne Higgins, and reached the semi-finals.
Johnson’s life illustrates an honourable journey of bravery, strength, leadership and skill, his story is bound to set alight any event.