HERO OF THE SKIES

First published in Saga Magazine in January 2022.

As the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War approaches, we celebrate one of its heroes, William O’Brien, who is the only Royal Marine ever to receive the Distinguished Flying Medal. ‘Uncle Bill’ went on to be the oldest pilot to fly missions in Afghanistan, flying helicopters with the Royal Naval Reserve. By Lord Michael Ashcroft.

Four decades ago, his skill and bravery in the Falklands – evacuating casualties by helicopter under enemy fire – earned pilot William O’Brien a unique honour. In recognition of 17 night-flying sorties, rescuing wounded personnel and resupplying vital ammunition, he became the only Royal Marine ever to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), and received the only such decoration of the conflict.

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