Espen Haugland saved thousands of lives when he threw himself upon a suicide bomber on a square in Kabul in 2004. Now he is honored in line with the foremost heroes of WWII.
War Cross with sword is the name of the badge of honor King Harald pinned on the 37-year-old from Lyngdal during a ceremony at Akershus Fortress on Sunday.
– I’m awed to be honored in this way. I feel proud of my former profession, but also proud for my unit, Haugland said to the news agency NTB immediately after the ceremony.
Eleven Norwegian soldiers were honored with various awards on Independence Day and Veteran’s Day on 8 May. Haugland’s medal is the highest honor you can be awarded in Norway. He is now in the company of heroes from World War II like Max Manus and Gunnar “Kjakan» Sønsteby, but despite this he does not consider himself to be a hero.
– No, I consider myself to be a fairly ordinary guy from Southern Norway, a happy and satisfied man. So it’s strange to be honored this way, Haugland says.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) also attended the ceremony.
– Two years ago we awarded the War Cross to a nurse who had served in Bosnia, and to someone who had stopped a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. There are different types of heroes. I think we all need someone to look up to. There is much pain in war, but there are also people who make an incredible effort to secure our freedom, Solberg says to NTB.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today