Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting WN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
At the controls to keep vital supply route safe
6:40pm Friday 4th October 2013 in News
A CARPENTER swapped his day job for a tour of Afghanistan.
Lance Bombardier Matthew Blackwell, a former pupil of Droitwich Spa High School, spent six months as a desert hawk three operator – an unmanned air system which is used to keep a watch on route 611 – a vital supply route between Sangin in the north of Helman province and Lashkar Gar in the south.
“We’ve been keeping an eye out for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and firing points. We’ve kept the road safe,” he said.
“The guys have been out on a few patrols and found IEDs and insurgent fire teams and have dealt with them.
“They’ve done a great job. I think the 611 is going to be a lot safer now.”
As well as keeping the route safe, the 26-year-old has also been improving his public speaking skills with the helicopter handling team for incoming and outgoing aircraft.
“I’ve been giving safety briefings to up to 50 people at a time, so I’ve had to raise my voice a lot more than usual,” he said.
“This has given me a lot more confidence which I’ll take back with me.”
L/Bmdr Blackwell is a reservist soldier with the 47th Regiment of the Royal Artillery which is usually attached to the Second Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland. However, his tour of Afghanistan was with 21 Battery, 47th Regiment of the Royal Artillery which is based in Portsmouth.
Outside of his military and civilian role – as a carpenter specialising in home improvements – he enjoys hiking, camping and rock climbing, although, having spent the last six months living in a patrol base, he said he might give the outdoors a bit of a rest for a few months when he finishes his tour.
Comments are closed on this article.