Royal Marine Corporal Seth Stephens was killed in southern Afghanistan on 1 July 2010.
Cpl Seth Stephens was posthumously awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for his bravery after rescuing comrades from the Special Boat Service who were pinned down by heavy fire
In his citation for the award, that is second only to the Victoria Cross, the court heard that the former Royal Marine had "almost certainly saved the lives of his comrades" after exposing himself to enemy fire during a substantial gun battle.
In a story that has never been told before, the inquest heard that Cpl Stephens was part of a large British and Afghan special forces raid on a Taliban headquarters in Helmand province.
In the early hours of July 1 2010, Chinooks carrying the teams landed near Haji Wakil village in the Bahram Chah area at 2am and quickly came under determined enemy resistance.
After more than five hours of heavy fighting the SBS force found "progress extremely difficult" as they fought their way through an orchard coming under fire from all sides, the inquest in Bournemouth heard.
On his own initiative Cpl Stephens, 42, used a ladder to climb a 9ft compound wall and began to fire down onto enemy positions that were attacking the men stranded in the orchard.
"In adopting this position he would have been acutely aware of his own vulnerability," the inquest was told.
A SBS commando who followed him into the compound was shot and wounded by an insurgent firing over a 7ft wall close to Cpl Stephens. The commando tried to warn him of the threat as the gunman had a clear line of sight onto Cpl Stephens.
Between 15 and 30 seconds later Cpl Stephens was shot in the back of the head in the exposed area between his helmet and body armour.
It is not known how many enemy were killed but outside court Lt Col Freddie Kemp, from the MoD's inquest unit, said it was a "significant firefight but we came out on top".
Sheriff Payne, the coroner, said: "Cpl Stephens made a conscious decision to move to provide more effective covering fire.
"He was in a very exposed position under accurate fire at increased risk to himself.
"That single act of selfless bravery almost certainly saved the lives of his comrades."
Corporal Seth Stephens was a truly popular man. He was blessed with the innate ability to brighten the darkest room; he also possessed a disarming sense of humour. Measured and thoughtful, his strength came from a depth of experience and knowledge that he was keen to share with others.
Armed with a positive ‘can do’ approach to every task, he was a trusted friend and colleague. A team member he most certainly was, but it was as an individual that his true colours were best displayed. Never one to follow the well-trodden path, he was confident in his own abilities and was always looking for new challenges.
Above all else Corporal Stephens was a doting husband and father. His absolute dedication and unfailing love for his family was abundantly clear for everybody to see. He could always be relied upon to be there for his family and friends, whose needs he always placed before his own.
Their loss is immeasurable and our condolences go to them. If there is some solace to be gained, it lies in knowing that Corporal Stephens died doing the job he genuinely loved, alongside comrades that had the utmost admiration for him.
He leaves behind his wife Karen and daughters Heather and Molly.
Within 10mins complete an ascending ladder of:
1, 10, 19, 28…
7, 16, 25, 34…
Adding 9 reps to each movement each round
Please write completed reps to the whiteboard….