War hero awarded Order of Willem

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On Thursday King Willem-Alexander knighted former commando Gijs Tuinman during a military ceremony on the Binnenhof in the Hague.

The 35 year old major is now a Knight of the Military Order of Willem the fourth class. A visibly emotional Tuinman received the highest Dutch bravery award for gallant, heroic and courageous action in Afghanistan. In his action s he was "creative", operated "tactically informed" and always "focused on results", said King Willem-Alexander. Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert praised Tuinman's "exceptional achievements". The king mentioned a number of operations for which Major Tuinman received the Order of Willem. These occurred in the fall of 2009 when he led several dozen soldiers from Task Force 55 in Uruzgan. One of the most acclaimed operations was the rescue of the wounded Corporal Kevin van de Rijdt, who ultimately did not survive that mission. Van de Rijdt's family was present at the ceremony. Tuinman also received the Bronze Lion, the second highest bravery award, for particularly brave and discreet deeds while on several mission is Afghanistan. These missions took place during the many years that he was active in the Commando Corps. Tuinman called the award "indescribable" shortly after the ceremony. According to him, he mainly acted as supervisor in Afghanistan, ensuring that "the guys can do their job". "That is the role of a commander." he added. It is about giving confidence to your people and preparing well, says the soldier. The Order of Willems was created in 1815 by King Willem I. Since then the medal has been awarded more than 6 thousand times. The highest and oldest award of the Netherlands consists of four grades - Knight Grand Cross, Commander, Officer and Knight. Carriers get the so called order cross on an orange ribbon with two blue stripes. The Military Order of Willems is for people who "in battle by excellent deeds and bravery, leadership and loyalty have distinguished" themselves, as the law states. A spokesperson for the army has confirmed that one of the soldiers in the army became unwell during the ceremony. "Everything went black before his eyes and he passed out." The soldier fell onto his weapon and received a small head wound. "He was taken care of on the spot and is doing well", said the spokesperson.

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