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  • Team FORCES Bible

Royal Marines Ride Apaches into Battle.

Remember when 4 Marines strapped themselves to attack helicopters and rode them into a Taliban compound?

On 15th January 2007, British forces launched an assault on a fort thought to contain high-value Taliban leaders. The fort had been under surveillance for two months and was bombarded with heavy artillery and bombed by B1 Lancers. The assault began as 200 men from 45 Commando, supported by Apache gunships and 105 mm artillery, crossed the river in amphibious vehicles.

Despite the considerable firepower, the Taliban within the fort refused to surrender and continued resisting. This resulted in a friendly fire incident that resulted in the death of Royal Marine Lance-Corporal Mathew Ford. After a head-count, it was discovered that Lance-Corporal Ford was missing and still within the fort.

In a daring rescue attempt, two Apache helicopter gunships carried a handful of Marines on the outside of the aircraft, riding on the stub-wing weapons pylons. This was not a regular tactic but the pylons were strong, had tie-down points fitted, and were recognized for use in casevac or impromptu cargo moves.

The two Apaches successfully located Lance-Corporal Ford and recovered him, but unfortunately, he passed away from his wounds before reaching safety. Despite the operation being considered a military failure, the bravery and determination of the Marines, including the Apache pilots, should not go unnoticed. The pilots, including author Ed Macy and Captain Tom O'Malley, were awarded the Military Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross for their bravery during the rescue mission.

The three Apache gunships arrive on HMS Prince of Wales
Apaches: usually badass enough without the Royal Marine attachment

In conclusion, the story of the Royal Marines riding on the wings of Apache helicopter gunships is a testament to the bravery and determination of the men and women who serve in the military. The mission may have been considered a failure, but the personal bravery and sacrifices made by the Marines and the Apache pilots will always be remembered.

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