A dozen current and former members of the Norwegian armed forces were awarded medals on Monday, when Norway celebrated its annual Liberation- and Veterans Day on the 8th of May. Among them was Lt Commander Ken Andersen of the Norwegian Navy, whose bravery in the midst of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan won him Norway’s highest recognition of them all, the War Cross with Sword.
King Harald V presented Andersen with his medal along with Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide and Defense Chief Haakon Bruun-Hanssen, in formal ceremonies on the grounds of the Akershus Fortress in Oslo.
“It’s a great honour to receive this distinction,” Andersen told newspaper VG. “I feel a sense of humility in connection with those who have received this before me, both during World War II, when the country was occupied, and in modern times.”
Andersen was on duty in Afghanistan in 2015, when the Park Palace Hotel in Kabul came under terrorist attack, followed by an attack on another location near the Russian Embassy. Under what the military called “extremely demanding and dangerous circumstances,” Andersen helped free hostages and overpower the terrorists. His leadership and personal contribution are believed to have saved a large number of civilian lives.
“Lt Commander Andersen’s contribution is in line with the greatest traditions of military leadership and courage,” Søreide said in her remarks on Monday. “This is well-deserved recognition of the exceptional contribution Andersen and Norwegian soldiers make in international operations, and in demanding situations.”
Andersen was awarded by War Cross with Sword during a session of the Council of State on March 3, attended by the monarch and government ministers. King Harald personally presented the medal and shook Andersen’s hand during the ceremony on Monday, at which medals also were awarded to 11 others attached to the UN who were honoured for warding off a massacre in the city of Gorazde in Bosnia in 1995.
Gorazde was surrounded by Bosnian Serbian forces, within which the UN had placed a British batallion of 300 soldiers. They were supported by a Norwegian medical corps made up of 11 people including surgeons, nurses and army medics. They held out under seige, with Captain Tore Tofte, Erja Maritta Aleksandersen, Christel Hustoft and Ole Jakob Sørensen awarded medals with rosettes on Monday. Corporal Kåre Roald Brandt, Lt Jannicke Falch-Meier, Captain Eirik Holmstrøm, Commander Terje Wadahl and Lars Sæterbø, Grete Ellefsplass Olssen and Eva-Julie Gjersvik also received medals at Monday’s ceremony.