Sunday, December 14, 2008

Every Day Heroes

Meet Flight Lieutenant Michelle Goodman:

RAF Benson Pilot Receives Top Honour - Friday 7 March 2008

It was announced today that Merlin helicopter pilot Flight Lieutenant Michelle Goodman has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), the first time the honour has been awarded to a female pilot.

The DFC, awarded for “an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy" was awarded to Flight Lieutenant Goodman following a particular sortie during her second 2-month tour as part of the Joint Helicopter Force (Iraq) in support of Operation TELIC.

On 1 June 2007 she was the aircraft captain of the Incident Reaction Team (IRT) Merlin helicopter based at Basra Air Station. At 2315 hours on 1 June, Flight Lieutenant Goodman was alerted that there was a serious casualty following a mortar attack on an isolated British location in the centre of Basra City. Landing an aircraft at this location is assessed to be very high risk. On 1 June 2007, intelligence reports indicated a large, ‘spectacular’ attack would occur somewhere in Basra, with a helicopter being a possible target. Flight Lieutenant Goodman was fully aware of the elevated threat level throughout her sortie.

Alert to the high risk, but being fully conscious of the importance of providing unfailing IRT support to ground forces, Flight Lieutenant Goodman elected to fly her approach, whilst under intense enemy direct and indirect fire. Maintaining a firm control of the situation whilst flying tactically on Night Vision Goggles at very low level across a hostile city, she commenced a most expeditious transit and approach to an unfamiliar and dangerous landing site. She continued her approach, undeterred by close friendly covering fire and even closer enemy fire which began to impact to the rear of the aircraft. Despite the most complex approach, with numerous obstructions and ambient conditions on the limit of aviation operations, she executed a landing with few visual references bringing the aircraft in next to the casualty. The medics and Aviation Reaction Force left the aircraft as 4 mortar rounds landed in and around the location; however, she remained in full control of the situation and elected to hold the aircraft on the ground as the option with least risk. The top cover Lynx helicopter was by now
reporting several substantial explosions in the area, which were believed to be either enemy mortars or RPG fire. With the casualties loaded, Flight Lieutenant Goodman departed the helicopter landing site just as further explosions occurred in close vicinity to the aircraft. Additionally, her aircraft detected a possible enemy missile engagement and automatically discharged flares as a counter measure. She departed the area, her path covered by very close friendly artillery fire to distract enemy forces. Flight Lieutenant Goodman flew rapidly from the area, making maximum use of the aircraft’s performance, crew and supporting assets to achieve a safe transit clear of the area. The aircraft landed at the British Field Hospital just 14 minutes after launch.

Many IRT sorties are high risk. However, on this occasion Flight Lieutenant Goodman had to instantly weigh up the risks against the importance of recovering a serious casualty, which would impact on morale throughout the coalition. Without the IRT, the casualty would have died within 15 minutes. Despite extreme pressure, whilst in the face of the enemy, she made the right decision. This was a bold and daring sortie which undoubtedly saved life.

Upon hearing the news of this historic award, Flight Lieutenant Goodman commented, “I am truly honoured to be awarded a DFC, but without both my crew and all the engineering support personnel, the rescue of the casualty would not have been possible. The helicopter Incident Reaction Team (IRT), whether in Iraq or Afghanistan, is regularly confronted with dangerous casualty extractions and all are dealt with in a professional and timely manner. This is not an award just for me, but recognizes all the soldiers, sailors and airmen, who, day in and day out put their lives on the line for the British public to remain safe.”

The Station Commander, Group Captain Paul Lyall further commented, “For the last 2 years, Royal Air Force Merlin helicopters have been hard at work moving our troops around southern Iraq. Flight Lieutenant Michelle Goodman showed great gallantry in flying her helicopter into a restricted area of Basra under enemy fire to rescue a wounded soldier and speed him straight to our field hospital. She would be the first to say that any of her colleagues would have shown the same skill and courage. She is humbled to be the first female recipient of a Distinguished Flying Cross. All of us at Royal Air Force Benson salute her actions, and those of the other 3 crew members that supported her. Flight Lieutenant Goodman’s actions were in the finest traditions of the Royal Air Force and we are very proud of her.”

Flight Lieutenant Goodman was born in Bristol on 22 November 1976 and was brought up there before completing a degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Manchester. Her Royal Air Force career began in 2000 and following Initial Officer Training at RAF Cranwell and initial flying training at RAF Shawbury, she was posted to the Merlin Force at RAF Benson in 2004. A combat Ready pilot, Flight Lieutenant Goodman has completed 3 tours on Operation TELIC in Iraq. (source)

More here, and then there is this:

March 8, 2008

First woman DFC wears her uniform with pride

“This could be a bit dodgy” were the final words spoken by Flight Lieutenant Michelle Goodman to her Merlin helicopter crew before they took off to rescue a wounded comrade under heavy fire in one of the most dangerous parts of Basra last year.

It was dark and dusty, and as they flew in low over the rooftops of the city there were flashes and explosions all around them. It was more than dodgy.

Yesterday the 31-year-old pilot was proud but bashful when she was told officially she was the first woman to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for an act of supreme bravery.

Flight Lieutenant Goodman, who comes from Bristol and is based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, knew that it was going to be a dangerous mission because the helicopter would be vulnerable to a hail of machinegun fire, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. ... (source)

RAF Operations - Honours and Awards

(source: The Fleet Air Arm Officers' Association)

If you "google" her name, you will find many, many articles on Flight Lieutenant Goodman.

On the same day as her actions were recognised, a further 183 members of the British armed forces were also given the medals they had earned:

Ministry Of Defence
Friday 7 March 2008 13:47

Ministry Of Defence (National)

RAF personnel honoured for service on operations

184 members of the Armed Forces are honoured today for their courage and professionalism on operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world.

Five Conspicuous Gallantry Crosses, five Distinguished Service Orders, 28 Military Crosses, and three Distinguished Flying Crosses will be awarded in the honours for the period 1st April 2007 to 30th September 2007.

Flight Lieutenant Michelle Goodman becomes the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross for her bravery in Basra.

Des Browne, Secretary of State for Defence, said today:

"Our servicemen and women risk their lives on operations every day, and it gives me great pleasure to congratulate those honoured today and to thank them for their tireless service to our country.

"These men and women are a credit to the Armed Forces. Many of them have displayed courage beyond the call of duty and all of them have shown unstinting dedication. We owe thanks to them all and to their families for their invaluable support and commitment to the Armed Forces."

Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, today said:

"The Service personnel that we honour today have all distinguished themselves - many in the face of great danger - and some have risked their own lives to save others. They have all earned the nation's thanks and respect, and I pay tribute to their outstanding achievements in the face of most difficult and dangerous circumstances."..(go here)

The list is truly amazing, Go here and read about the bravery of some of Britain's finest.

Thank YOU for your service, Flight Lieutenant Goodman!~

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