Marty Sharpe The Dominion Post Wednesday 31 December 2008 - Kevin Stewart could see that East Timor president Jose Ramos-Horta was breathing. Rebels armed with automatic weapons were hiding in the surrounding bush.
Mr Stewart, 43, had to act, so, with a group of Portuguese paramilitary soldiers, he tended to the critically injured president and a Timorese soldier shot in the head.
After evacuating the two men Mr Stewart, a Hastings police sergeant, and the soldiers secured the scene until more military arrived.
His bravery has earned him the Queen's Service Medal for his actions in East Timor on the morning of February 11.
Mr Stewart was operations commander of Bercora Station when he heard about a shooting at the president's residence.
"I don't really know what happened that morning. I just knew the president was injured but alive I could see he was breathing and we needed to get him out of there," Mr Stewart said. "If the rebels had wanted to remain and take us, they could quite easily have done so.
"But we weren't thinking about that. We had the head of state lying seriously wounded. It wasn't until later on that I realised how exposed we had been."
The president recovered from the assassination attempt. Mr Stewart has been a police officer for 12 years, after a three-year stint in the Prison Service and 10 years in the army. He was in East Timor from October 2007 to April this year. In 2005 he spent six months stationed in the Solomon Islands. He is married to Nicki and has two children, Teresa, 17, and Joshua, 13. Mr Stewart is one of six police officers recognised in the honours list.
Image added by ETLJB: East Timor President Ramos-Horta at prayer.
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