An officer of the Dutch Commando Corps who led his Special Forces platoon through numerous fights against the Taliban in Afghanistan will receive the highest (and rarest) royal decoration for bravery. On 29 May, Captain Marco Kroon of the Korps Commandotroepen (KCT, Commando Corps) will be the first individual in more than fifty years to receive the ‘Militaire Willems-Orde’ (Military Order of William). The order is awarded by the Royal Court to soldiers and civilians who have distinguished themselves through “excellent acts of courage, leadership and loyalty”.
The Military Order of William was established in 1815 by King William I and almost immediately granted to Dutch military who participated in the battles of Waterloo and Quatre Bras against Napoleon. The order can be awarded to both military personnel and civilians, and these need not to be of Dutch nationality. Of the current eleven people alive who were granted the Order, eight are Dutch, two Canadian, and one American.
The last time individuals received the Order of William was in 1955. In addition, the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade was granted the award in 2006 to honour their role near the town of Arnhem in the 1944 Operation Market Garden. The only other military unit to have collectively received the Order is the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division, for gallantry during that same operation.
Captain Marco Kroon began his career as a member of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps. He later became a NCO and joined an infantry battalion. In 1998, he successfully passed the gruelling test of the Commando Corps and received his Green Beret. Subsequently he graduated from the Royal Military Academy and became a commissioned officer. As a commando, he served in Iraq in 2004, and three times in Afghanistan (2005, 2006, and 2007). According to a statement of the Dutch Defence ministry, Captain Kroon led his platoon through numerous operations against Taliban fighters. Details of these operations will be made public on 29 May.