RAF gunner foils Afghan bombers


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

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 the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence said.

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 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 Marvin’s actions undoubtedly saved US lives his watchtower was paid a visit by Major General Scott Miller, commander of Regional Command South-west who handed the non-commissioned officer a commendation.
“I didn’t really expect anything. I was doing the job 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,” he said following the visit by the two star general.

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 in Scotland.
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 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.”