A HERO pilot from RAF Odiham saved the lives of 30 British troops after flying his damaged Chinook on one engine.
The incident in Helmand Province in Afghanistan was one of three tough ordeals that Flight Lieutenant Chris Gordon faced in the space of a week in July last year.
For his efforts, the 28-year-old, of 27 Squadron, was honoured with the Disting-uished Flying Cross (DFC) in the latest round of military honours.
The pilot’s week of action started with his aircraft being shot at while attempting to drop off 30 troops for a mission in Helmand Province.
Just 24 hours later, Flt Lt Gordon was back in the air, and again under attack from machine gun fire from Taliban forces as he came into land.
He said: “The co-pilot was putting out a contact call and as he reached down, a bullet or a piece of shrapnel came through the aircraft and hit him in the hand. He said he couldn’t feel his arm and blood was over his arm and his hands.
“I put in a tight turn and responded to the radio so that I could fly back as low and as fast as I could.”
Six days later the pilot was called out to pick up 30 British troops who had captured a suspected suicide bomber.
More insurgent fire meant Flt Lt Gordon was forced to fly back to Camp Bastion to refuel, but he returned to pick up the British troops.
When he landed, his Chinook was hit by enemy bullets, causing one of the aircraft’s two engines to fail.
The pilot said he had to quickly calculate whether he had enough fuel to return to Camp Bastion, with added weight, before signalling the soldiers to run from a compound and come aboard.
He said: “One of the soldiers was shot in the leg as he ran to the Chinook but we got them aboard.
“I created a dust cloud and started to move forward. I could only see the tracks from a farmer’s field down to my right hand side. We essentially got away using maximum power from one engine.”
He then took off low and fast in a dust cloud to return to the base, flying at a lower height than normal.
Over the last 10 years, the Chinook force at RAF Odiham has received 17 DFCs for the bravery and commitment of its personnel.
Flt Lt Gordon added: “If it were not for the bond between the engineering and aircrew, awards like this would not happen. I am honoured and humbled to be part of that group.”