Before I return to the rather squalid story of China Gateway in Thanet, could I bring to your attention a rather special hero, Warrant Officer Class 2 Gary O'Donnell GM. I, and many ex-servicemen and women owe our lives to men like him.
He died on Wednesday 10th September 2008, leaving a widow and 4 children without a father. He was awarded a George Medal in 2006 in Iraq and died outside the town of Musa Qula in Helmand Province , Afghanistan as he cleared the way for the infantry to move safely.
For those who do not understand what an Ammunition Technical Officer (ATO) working on Explosive Ordnance Detachment (EOD) duty does for the Queen's shilling, let me explain. In cold blood they approach and clear booby-trapped bombs whether they be land-mines, car bombs, rocket launcher systems, mortars, landmines and culvert bombs, all designed to kill and maim our soldiers. This is 'work' that requires a very special sort of hero. Gary O'Donnel did this work for most of his Army service in Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan. In Northern Ireland his NATO appointment title would have been 'Felix' and I suspect it still was in Afghanistan. Well, he ran out of his 9 lives as many of his comrades in EOD have done. The 'enemy' whether it be Shia militia's, IRA or Taliban have always made ATOs a specific target to kill on the grounds that they have been so effective in preventing enemy devices from killing and maiming British troops on Operations.
You must forgive me for loathing the media label attached to sportsmen and women as 'Olympic' heroes etc . Gary O'Donnell was a hero in the correct meaning that he was an illustrious warrior and it demeans his quiet unassuming bravery and courage to label lesser mortals as heroes.
May he rest in peace.
Trip to Turner Contemporay to see Tracy Emins Bed - Just because I live less than a mile from the Turner Contemporary doesn't mean I am always in and out of the exhibitions. Being disabled I need to go with ...
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