Skip to comments.IN PICTURES: Daring Apache rescue attempt (VIDEO)
Posted on 01/31/2007 7:27:53 AM PST by 68skylark
Dramatic pictures and video footage can now be seen of the daring rescue attempt of Lance Corporal Mathew Ford, carried out by Royal Marines on Apache helicopters in Afghanistan on Monday 15 January 2007.
It was with great sadness that the Marines discovered Lance Corporal Mathew Ford, from 45 Commando Royal Marines, had been killed in action.
His UK Task Force had attacked a major Taliban stronghold, Jugroom Fort, south of Garmsir in southern Helmand Province and met ferocious Taliban fire from all sides.
Having fought for a period, the Marines regrouped. Discovering Lance Corporal Ford was missing, four marines flew back strapped to Apaches, to find their fallen comrade, in a unique rescue mission attempt.
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Marine Gary Robinson, one of the four, explained:
"All that was going through my head was basically what to do when we got on the ground and just make sure I knew exactly where I was going so I could reach Lance Corporal Ford as soon as possible and get out myself.
"As far as I'm concerned any of my colleagues would have done the same thing if the roles were reversed. I don't think it was heroic or dangerous in any way. "
It was one of the Apache pilots, known as Tom, from the Army Air Corps, who made the suggestion that four personnel could be strapped onto the Apaches and that they could be in and out in five minutes.
They flew in at low level and at 50mph (80kph) to protect the passengers. After landing in the Taliban fort Tom said:
"I thought that we'd probably got about two to three minutes at most with the element of surprise before they would realise what was happening, and it was after we'd been on the ground for about three minutes that we were engaged. "
Tom then came under fire from a building to his right. He radioed to a supporting Apache above who fired at the Taliban as the Marines now started running back to the helicopter. They had been on the ground for five minutes.
WO1 Colin Hearn, a Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) with the Royal Marines, also volunteered for the rescue:
"It had never been done before on that particular aircraft," he said. "I just wanted to get on. We knew what we were going to do. We had a rough plan of how it was going to run.
"I'm just grateful that we found Lance Corporal Ford and got him back on the helo and back with us. I'm a Royal Marine, I'm RSM of the unit, he's a Royal Marine the same as me - there was no way we were ever going to leave him, or anyone else on that battlefield. "
The other two volunteers were Marine Chris Fraser-Perry and Captain Dave Rigg, Royal Engineer, with 28 Engineer Regiment, who was acting as Battlegroup engineer. Captain Rigg, who is Commando trained, said:
"In these circumstances everyone is drawn together Royal Marines, Army, Air Force, everyone is in it together. You just pull together and do it. It wouldn't have mattered who he was, he was one of us.
"There were a lot of very brave guys that day, from the pilots to the young lads who went into the fort initially and were pinned down by the enemy fire, to the Brigade Reconnaissance Force and Light Dragoons who had been out there all night supporting and all those guys in the HQ that volunteered."
Brigadier Jerry Thomas, Commander of British Forces, Afghanistan, said:
"This was an extremely hostile situation where our men were exposed to fire from 360 degrees. A range of options was considered by the commanders on the ground, including the use of an available Chinook transport helicopter, but it was the Apaches that were judged the best platform for performing the rescue. They are smaller and therefore less vulnerable to incoming fire, faster and carry a formidable array of weapons. "
A memorial service was held in the field for Lance Corporal Ford the next day.
God Bless Our Troops!
I always thought this photo was a joke. Now I'm not so sure!
No one gets left behind. God bless you Lance Corporal Mathew Ford.
God bless our brave troops and allies .. unbelievably gutsy. RIP, Corporal Ford.
Too bad the Democrat Party cannot understand this concept in time of war
God bless our troops!
Our troops and the Brits are the greatest. How the dems can say the crap they say about the war and still get elected makes me sick. What's wrong with the voters? The troops are heros and brave beyond words.
I agree with everyone who says "God bless our troops." In this case, "our" troops include all those fighting for freedom and human rights -- whatever country they're from.
Looks like the latest in Democrat weapons, the new gun pod. After giving all the funds to their pet little socialism causes it's all they could afford for the military.
Well done lads, well done.
"As far as I'm concerned any of my colleagues would have done the same thing if the roles were reversed. I don't think it was heroic or dangerous in any way."
Right! Nothing heroic here. Why everyday you see people strap themselves onto the outside of an Apache helicopter and land (outnumbered) into an enemy stronghold.
We still live in a world with heroes and miracles, but they are only visible to those who believe in them.
Good comment -- I think you're right.
Is this an example of understatement? :-)
Yep, talk about Big Brass ones, these guys have 'em, maybe more than one set.
Possibly the Apaches were the only birds close enough at the time?
A buddy of mine who I grew up with just came back from Afghanistan and said the Brits,Dutch and Canadians had some big brass balls. He said that the Brits were so funny and loved us dearly they were worried that a new PM would keep them from helping us in Iraq and Afghanistan. He told me they were stand up guys.
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