Sunday, January 21, 2007

Real Life Superheroes

***Update: Video added ***

Hang on!!

Wow, these guys are amazing! Even better than Jack Bauer (that's possible? I guess so!)

Four unnamed British Royal Marines went back into a hot LZ in Afghanistan to try to rescue a fellow marine, hanging on the outside of Apache helicopters. You can't make this stuff up. In fact, I'm thoroughly amazed that this hasn't made it in to any movie or TV show that I can recall.

There truly are real life superheroes.

Four Royal Marines flew into a battle zone clinging to the outside of helicopter gunships in a bid to rescue a fallen comrade, the Ministry of Defence has revealed.

Unwilling to leave behind one of their number following a retreat, the commandos strapped themselves to the small stabiliser wings of two Apache helicopters and returned into the midst of a fierce gunfight with the Taliban in southern Afghanistan.


Following an intense gun and mortar battle, the commandos were forced back. When they realised L/Cpl Ford was missing, four soldiers volunteered to return.

Three Apaches were available for the mission, but the 200mph helicopters have no room inside for passengers. The soldiers made the snap decision to travel on the outside of two of the armour-plated aircraft, with a third helicopter providing covering fire.

The men flew right back into the gun battle, landing both inside and outside the enemy fort in the search for L/Cpl Ford.

They eventually found and retrieved the body of the section leader who had been killed by enemy fire.

The unnamed soldiers won high praise for the rescue attempt and for managing to return L/Cpl Ford’s body to base.

I am very sure more than four Royal Marines would have gone if they had more than two Apaches to ride on.

Update: EU Referendum updates us on some practical details, namely, that the marines didn't hang on the wings of the Apache, but hung on on the little bumps just outside the cockpit. Personally, that is still just as cool.
It is there that you will find an unbelievably amateur graphic to illustrate Monday's action of the Royal Marines "clinging" to Apache helicopters in an attempt to rescue their colleague. The picture shows two cartoon-esque overlays of soldiers lying on the top of the Apache wings as the manner in which they were supposedly conveyed to their rescue drama. The trouble is that it is fiction - total, absolute fiction.

For sure, the fiction was actually originated by the MoD itself which, in its own press release claimed that "four troops were strapped to the small side 'wings' of two Apaches, two to each helicopter." Interestingly, the MoD held the account off its website until the media had been able to chew it over.

However, no sooner had the media conveyed the MoD's claim and we put it up on our site than we began to look at the practicalities of this claim. It took very little time indeed to find out how it was done, that this was a recognised procedure to allow what is known as "self extraction", the rescue of downed crews by an Apache in an emergency.

The procedures has been carried out before, in the heat of action, at least twice, in April 2002 in Afghanistan and again, in Iraq, November 2004, the latter report complete with a photograph of how it was done (above left).
Update: Sky News has obtained video footage of the daring rescue attempt. The video may be choppy as the site is understandably very popular. (Click the image to watch. Hat tip: Hot Air)


<< Home