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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Tie a yellow ribbon: Welcome home for RAF firecrew hero Chris

A CLEATOR Moor RAF firefighter has received a commendation after responding to an insurgent bomb that left six soldiers dead in Afghanistan.

Chris Robertson, 22, was a member of Red Watch who attended the scene following the IED attack which devastated the soldiers’ Warrior vehicle.

The massive blast, last month, resulted in the largest loss of life for UK combat forces in a single incident.

A former St Benedict’s School pupil, Chris received the award in recognition of his “outstanding efforts... and unswerving dedication” while on his four-month tour and his “sensitivity and dignity” in dealing with “extreme challenges”.

Speaking on British Forces News about his experiences, Chris said: “I have learnt a lot about myself.” His boss, Capt Dave Waddington, said it had been a demanding tour and explained it needed “a certain sort of person” to be on such “high-readiness”.

Red Watch is a team of firefighters, stationed at Afghanistan, who travel from different bases across the UK. They provide airfield crash cover at Camp Bastion and also transport casualties.

Following the Warrior explosion, the firefighters were ready within 10 minutes but were forced to make repeated attempts to reach the fire which was said to be “ferocious”.

This was Chris’s first tour of duty and he has since returned to his base at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

His mum, Sue and his dad, Charles, welcomed him on a visit to Cleator Moor last weekend with yellow ribbons decorating their house.

Sue said: “I am very proud of him. I didn’t realise what he had done while he was out there. It was only when I saw the commendation which says he excelled himself.

“While he was out in Afghanistan, I tried not to think about it about too much,’’ she said, “but I am in contact with mothers and wives support groups which helps.’’

And she added: “Chris has always been laid-back and he is enjoying being a fire-fighter. However, he was surprised to receive the commendation as he just sees it as doing his job.’’

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