Sunday, June 6, 2010

Every Day Hero

Major Mick Flynn:

June 4, 2010

I enjoy the fear, says Major Mick Flynn, off to the front line at 50

Mick Flynn
Damian Whitworth

To his army comrades in Iraq he was known as the Beast of Basra. Others, noting the way that he always seems to be at the centre of the action, call him Bullet Magnet or Mad Mick. To Prince William, who served with him in the Household Cavalry, he is legendary.

Squadron Corporal-Major Mick Flynn is Britain’s most highly decorated frontline soldier. In a career that has spanned four decades and taken him from Northern Ireland to the Falklands, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, he has experienced some of the fiercest fighting and received two of the highest possible awards for bravery.

Today, as he tells his remarkable personal story for the first time, he is preparing for one last mission. At the age of 50 he is to return to Afghanistan to command an armoured vehicle in a frontline combat role alongside soldiers young enough to be his sons.

On first meeting Major Flynn at the regiment’s Windsor barracks, it is a surprise to find he is a modest, softly spoken man. Well built, yes, and 6ft 1in; someone you wouldn’t seek to provoke, certainly. But not the towering warrior one associates with his deeds. We sit and chat inside a Scimitar light tank like the one he commanded in Iraq and Afghanistan and in which he survived poundings from rockets and machineguns and narrowly escaped annihilation by heavier bombardment....


Why, after all he has endured and all the service he has given, would he want to put himself back in harm’s way?

“You don’t lose that feeling of wanting to be a soldier. That’s always inside you,” he says. “I want to go back and do the job. Yes, there is a massive thrill out of doing it. My wife will kill me for saying this: you do get an adrenalin rush, do enjoy the fear.”

There is also “the comradeship, the laughs and the jokes that you have”. And the challenge: “Knowing that you are pitting your wits against an enemy force that mostly is better in that terrain than you normally are.” Major Flynn hopes that his experience will help “bring through” the younger soldiers. “Touch wood we will have nobody killed or injured. But you go away with the feeling that you may well have injuries or you may well have fatalities.”

The Bullet Magnet nickname is a misnomer. Although he has an uncanny ability to attract hostile fire, he has never been hit. His worst wound came from a nightclub stabbing in Cyprus. “They haven’t got me yet and I have no intention of them getting me ever,” he says. “This will probably be my last tour and hopefully I will come back in one piece, but you never know.”...

This really is a great article, and I encourage you to read it here, and get some insights into the mind and heart of a warrior: the Major. As always, read the comments. Major Flynn has also written a book (another warrior/writer...,) which I shall certainly seek out:

Bullet Magnet will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on June 8 at £18.99 Copies can be ordered for £17.09 (free p&p) from The Times Bookshop on 0845-271-2134

Thank you for your service, Major. You do us all proud.

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