Saturday, May 13, 2006

Our Allies: The British

Saturday and it's time to remember those who share the burden with our men and women to bring down the Islamist terrorists and bring peace, stability and even democracy.

United Kingdom

Good work behind the scenes

UK Military doctors have been involved in a ground breaking initiative to train Iraqi doctors in British controlled south east Iraq.

14 Iraqi GP's have been learning the latest trauma techniques used in British hospitals in a series of lectures and practical sessions at the British Military Field Hospital at Shaibah Logistics Base, South East Iraq. British military doctors set up the two day trauma course for the Iraqi doctors working with the Marsh arabs of Basra.

Just like in the US, the defense ministry is working hard to provide services to the soldiers and their families back home:

7 Armoured Brigade The Desert Rats, recently returned from operational duty in Iraq, demonstrated their new "HOME RAT" welfare system to the Armed Forces Minister, Adam Ingram, when he visited them on Tuesday 9 May 2006 in Hohne, Germany.

HOME RAT, the brainchild of Brigade Commander Brigadier Patrick Marriott, brought together separate unit welfare provisions into one, centralised welfare system for the brigade and their families. It was adopted during Operation TELIC.

A HOME RAT website established through ArmyNET – the secure, password protected website for Army personnel – provided a platform for sharing messages, photographs and news between soldiers and their families. In addition, a comprehensive leaflet and DVD outlined the full range of welfare services.

Commenting on the HOME RAT system, Mr Ingram said:

“Our Armed Forces and their families, who provide invaluable support for our soldiers on operations, deserve the highest standards of welfare available.

"I can see that HOME RAT offered excellent two-way communication to ensure that families received regular updates on life in Iraq and vice-versa. It also ensured soldiers and their families were aware of the comprehensive welfare services available to them.”

During his visit to 7 Armoured Brigade in Hohne, Germany, Mr Ingram also presented Op TELIC medals to 400 soldiers from 9/12 Lancers.

And they are paying a price, men and women, often unremarked in our own media but for a few words on the latest casualties. The MOD provided brief biographies of the five soldiers who died in Basra.

It is with very great sadness and regret that the Ministry of Defence has confirmed the names of five British personnel missing presumed dead following the crash of a Lynx helicopter in Basra City on Saturday 6 May 2006.

They are Wing Commander John Coxen RAF; Lieutenant Commander Darren Chapman RN; Flight Lieutenant Sarah-Jayne Mulvihill RAF; Captain David Dobson AAC and Marine Paul Collins.

They are heroes as much as ours, may God bless and comfort their families.

Wing Commander John Coxen, from Royal Air Force Benson, was born in 1959. Originally from Liverpool, he joined the Royal Air Force, upon completion of Initial Officer Training, in January 1983.

Throughout his years in the Air Force, John flew a number of helicopter types on a range of operations, including the Puma, Merlin and Chinook, on 7 Squadron at RAF Odiham and 18 Squadron at RAF Guterslöh. He also commanded 1 Squadron at No. 2 Flying Training School at RAF Shawbury. Well known for his high standards, he had a gift for developing his students to their full potential; indeed many of today’s front-line Royal Air Force helicopter pilots owe their achievements to his dedication and skill.[snip]

The family of Lieutenant Commander Chapman have issued the following statement:

"We are deeply shocked and devastated at the untimely and tragic loss of Darren. He was a fantastic father, husband, son and friend who was deeply committed to family life; always there for those who needed him, nothing was ever too much trouble.[snip]

Captain David Ian Dobson, Army Air Corps, aged 27, was serving as a pilot with 847 Naval Air Squadron, based at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton. He was single.

Dave, or Dobbo as he was known in the Squadron, joined the Army in January 2001 and on completion of his officer training at Sandhurst was commissioned into the Army Air Corps. He completed his flying training and qualified as a Lynx helicopter pilot in December 2003. He then served with 5 Regiment Army Air Corps in Northern Ireland as a Lynx pilot, receiving the General Service Medal (NI). [snip]

Flight Lieutenant Sarah-Jayne Mulvihill, aged 32, served as a Flight Operations Officer at Royal Air Force Benson.

Born in Canterbury, Sarah-Jayne joined the Royal Air Force as an airwoman in May 1997 and on completion of her basic training was posted to RAF Coningsby in October 1997.

An ambitious and extremely competent airwoman, her potential was quickly recognised and she was selected for Initial Officer Training in October 2001.[...]

Group Captain Duncan Welham, Station Commander Royal Air Force Benson, said of her:

"Sarah-Jayne was one of the Royal Air Force’s finest: courageous, upbeat and unselfish. She was a dedicated officer who will be missed by us all.[...]

Her husband, Lee, released the following statement:

"Sarah was my best friend and my most beloved wife. She was also an adored daughter and sister, highly loved and respected by all who had the pleasure of knowing her.

"Her love of sport and outdoor activities was only outshone by her commitment to the Royal Air Force, of which she and I are extremely proud to be part.

"Her loss has greatly affected and impacted on more people than anyone can comprehend.[snip]

Marine Paul M Collins, aged 21, served as an Air Door Gunner with 847 Naval Air Squadron. He was single and based at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.

His parents have given the following tribute:

"Paul was a wonderful young man and so full of potential and zest for life. He was physically and mentally strong, though this was tempered by an intelligent, thoughtful and caring nature.

"He loved outdoor pursuits and from an early age of ten had wanted to be a Royal Marine. This dream was nearly spoilt due to injuries sustained in a motor cycle accident; however he fought back, recovered and fulfilled his dream passing out from Commando Training Centre on 13 February 2004. Though his time with the Corps was only short he made many good friends and was never happier than being with his ‘brothers in arms’.

Please remember them in your thoughts and know that they are bleeding along with our men and women, doing the hard "work of generations".

Brittain has sustained 109 KIA in Iraq and 7 in Afghanistan.

A very interesting read from Rory Higgins (anyone else hear a cockney accent?) who is a editor for the BFBS (British Service Radio) for the MOD.

BFBS has stations in many of the areas where the forces operate, but not all. In Afghanistan, for example, we do not yet have a station. We hope to change that soon, but in the meantime, people like me and my colleagues from TV go out there and try to explain to everyone else what it is like on the ground.

I was one of the embedded journalists on Op Telic, and that has to have been one of the high points of my career. To be involved in a very small way was an enormous privilege. I found that as more adrenaline was pumping, the people around me and the business of surviving became much more important than reporting.[snip]

On the outskirts of Basra I met some Irish Guardsmen, and I thought I would record some messages from them for the families back home. They couldn’t believe it was us: “BFBS? You’re here with us? Blimey, that’s great!” Then some mortar rounds started to come in, so we just jumped in the back of a Warrior and carried on recording the messages.

And the heroes that serve that you never hear of, ours or theirs:

Captain Peter Norton, an Ammunition Technical Officer, has been awarded the George Cross for an act of 'the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger' in the Al Bayaa district near Baghdad, Iraq.[snip]

"Captain Norton was the second-in-command of the US Combined Explosives Exploitation Cell (CEXC) based in the outskirts of Baghdad. The unit has been in the forefront of counter Improvised Explosive Device (IED) operations and is plays a vital role in the collection and analysis of weapons intelligence.

"At 1917 hours on 24 July 2005, a three vehicle patrol from B Company, 2nd Battalion, 121st Regiment of the Georgia National Guard was attacked by a massive command initiated IED in the Al Bayaa district near Baghdad.[snip]

A short while later he was briefed that a possible command wire had been spotted in the vicinity of the explosion site. With a complete understanding of the potential hazard to himself and knowing that the insurgents had used secondary devices before in the particularly dangerous part of Iraq, Captain Norton instructed his team and the US forces present in the area to remain with their vehicle while he alone went forward to confirm whether a command wire IED was present.

"A short while later, an explosion occurred and Captain Norton sustained a traumatic amputation of his left leg and suffered serious blast and fragmentation injuries to his right leg, arms and lower abdomen. When his team came forward to render first aid, he was conscious, lucid and most concerned regarding their safety. He had correctly deduced that he had stepped on a victim operated IED and there was a high probability that further devices were present. Before allowing them to render first aid, he instructed his team on which areas were safe and where they could move. Despite having sustained grievous injuries he remained in command and coolly directed the follow-up actions

This is typical "British Stiff Upper Lip" because I'm sure there was quite a bit of angst, adrenalin, rage and fear going on along with a very serious need to secure the area against additional attacks as the insurgents are want to do. According to the George Cross site, the award is given for:

"The highest award for acts of conspicuous gallantry performed by men or women when not in the face of the enemy"

The George Cross was instituted in September 1940 to recognise civilian heroism. King George VI created the award for the men and women of the Commonwealth whose courage could not be marked by any other honour. The silver cross, bearing an image of St George slaying the dragon and the words "FOR GALLANTRY", was designed by Percy Metcalfe and is struck at the Royal Mint.

To date, there have been 401 awards of the George Cross including the latest to Trooper Christopher Finney of the Blues & Royals for his outstanding bravery in a 'friendly fire' incident in Iraq. Bomb disposal experts, Miners, Lifeboatmen, Railwaymen, Policemen and Special Operations Executive Agents all feature prominently, as do men and women from the three armed services.

More on another British hero:

Colour Sergeant (CSgt) Matthew Tomlinson receives the next highest award in this list, the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. CSgt Tomlinson was commanding a US Marine Corps assault force on the Euphrates River near Fallujah in November 2004 when they came under fire from a numerically superior and well-defended enemy position. His decision to turn his lead craft towards the attack created an element of surprise, which unhinged the enemy. He was first on the river bank and he engaged in close quarter battle, enabling his men to encircle the enemy. When it became clear the insurgents were reinforcing themselves, CSgt Tomlinson called for fire support on the enemy Rocket Propelled Grenade position and he planned and led a decisive assault on the key enemy position. On realising his force was running low on ammunition, CSgt Tomlinson executed a safe withdrawal to the river bank where he personally provided cover fire to ensure his men safely boarded the boats. He also marked his position so that air support could counter strike at the enemy force.

I bet most everyone thought that the "blocking" positin of the British forces in Fallujah was their only contribution. One day, I'd like to have the whole story.

HOOAH! Royal Marines!

Thank the British Service Members for their service.

God Save the Queen!

More information on significant awards to those serving in the Queen's military.

Britain takes over NATO led Rapid Reaction Force in Afghanistan.

No comments: