Four British Royal Marines strapped themselves to the wings of two British Army AH Mk.1 Apaches Jan. 15 to fly to the rescue of a comrade missing after a firefight with Taliban forces in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, according to the U.K. Defence Ministry.
Marines from 45 Commando were among troops involved in the attack near the town of Garmsir. The area is considered a key supply route for Taliban fighters crossing the nearby border from Pakistan. When the Marines returned to their base, they discovered Lance Cpl. Matthew Ford missing. He’d been seen to have been shot during the fight.
Four Marines were planning to return to the battlefield by ground when a British Army Apache pilot suggested the faster option. Two Apaches circled the target area, and it was determined an air rescue would work. The four then strapped themselves to the wings of two Apaches; a third provided cover. The Marines found Ford had been killed. While the third Apache laid covering fire, they recovered Ford, secured his body onto a wing, too, and left the area.