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RAF gunner foils Afghan bombers

9 June 2014

A keen-eyed RAF gunner has been commended by US and UK commanders for his life-saving diligence in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Mark Marvin's actions led to the unearthing of 3 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and the break-up of an insurgent cell.

Lance Corporal Marvin, of 51 Squadron RAF Regiment, was on duty in a watchtower on Bastion's perimeter when a 'change in the pattern of life' caught his attention.

A prominent track leading from Camp Bastion's south gate to the main wadi road, used by United States forces, lay in his observation arcs. As Lance Corporal Marvin watched, a motorbike stopped twice along its route. He said:

'Motorbikes don't usually stop there and it looked like someone was digging on the other side of it so I sent a report.'

The motorbike and its rider were tracked to a compound, where the Quick Reaction Force of 58 Squadron paid a visit. Battery packs and other IED-making equipment were discovered and several suspects were found to have explosive residue on their hands. Two suspects were detained and 3 IEDs that had already been planted were recovered.

Because Lance Corporal Marvin's actions undoubtedly saved US lives his watchtower was paid a visit by Major General Scott Miller, commander of Regional Command Southwest, who handed the non-commissioned officer a commendation.

Lance Corporal Marvin said:

'I didn't really expect anything. I was doing the job that I was supposed to do. The lads are pleased for me and I suppose it's good for the squadron that I received the commendation.'

Lance Corporal Marvin was also given a commendation by Air Commodore Al Gillespie, the Air Component Commander of 83 Expeditionary Air Group, prior to 51 Squadron's return to RAF Lossiemouth.

51 and 58 Squadrons are both part of 5 Force Protection Wing, which provided security for Bastion Airfield, run by 903 Expeditionary Air Wing. The men of 5 Force Protection Wing endured one of the worst Helmand winters in living memory during their tour of duty.

The commander of 5 Force Protection Wing, Wing Commander Piers Holland, praised Lance Corporal Marvin for his actions which, he said, contributed to the success of the wing's tour. Wing Commander Holland said:

'We did our job, we did it well and we did it with pride. We maintained a secure and undisrupted perimeter and maintained on-base security. And, importantly, we brought everybody home.'

'We also ensured the safety of all fixed-wing aircraft operating to and from Bastion Airfield and had no ground-to-air attacks against them.'

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