Play / pause MERT in Afghanistan

MERT in Afghanistan

  • Liz McConaghy
  • Interview by: Jess Boydon


And Afghanistan was a different beast really.

It was, I would still refer to it

as the best of times and the worst of times

because we were making a real difference.

I mean the Chinook was basically

the centerpiece of that entire conflict.

And what we did every day,

I mean the reason why I really joined the RAF

was to do a job that made a difference every day,

and out there we did, we really did.

Whether or not it was delivering rations and blueys

to people out in the FOBs or ammunition and water,

obviously slightly more important.

And then picking up the guys in the battlefield

who don't see, have injuries except as part of the MERT.

But when we put that ramp down, it made a difference,

and that ramp made a difference to someone's day,

no matter how big or small.

And when it comes to IRT or MERT,

as we eventually called it,

you couldn't have got a better platform.

We were fast, even with the Apaches in tow,

we still had really really good engine capacity out there,

so we always, most of the time

we were able to outrun them if we had to,

and get there first to pick up the real severe casualties.

But you can fit up to about seven stretchers

down the middle of the Chinook,

and I've been to some shouts like that before

in our MERT where we had multiple casualties.

I think one of the hardest days I had was,

there was five guys from Rifles that got killed in one go.

Four Bushtons, so I had to go and pick them up

and again, just seeing five stretchers come over the ramp,

all with different flags on them,

which has stuck in my mind forever,

because there was a Union Jack on one of the stretchers,

a Rifle flag on one, A Man United flag and a Liverpool flag.

So it was all really distinctive for the guys

that were obviously laying underneath the flags,

but watching them, their colleagues carry them

up over the ramp, set them down, touch the bodies,

and then go back into the fight was just really hard,

'cause there's nothing you can say to people

at that time to make it better.

And they've got to go straight back into the battle.

So yeah, that one sticks in my mind definitely.

  • Liz McConaghy

    © RAF Museum

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