26-Mar-2013 Source: RAF
He is among a total of 27 RAF personnel named in the latest Armed Forces Operational Awards and Joint Commanders Commendations for their service in Afghanistan, Britain and around the world.
Flight Lieutenant Christopher Gordon used his helicopter to shield the troops as they boarded the aircraft, resulting in the loss of one of his engines, before airlifting them to safety at Camp Bastion.
Flt Lt Gordon was the lead captain of a force of two Chinook helicopters tasked with inserting UK and Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) troops into a known insurgent safe haven.
With the ground forces successfully inserted without incident just before dawn, Gordon led the aviation assault force but his flight came under intense enemy fire which forced both aircraft to take evasive action and abandon the attempt to extract the troops.
Despite Gordon’s unwavering determination, coordinating with Apache attack helicopters to facilitate the extraction, he was forced to return to Camp Bastion for fuel and to wait to be called forward.
However, UK forces became aware the insurgents were planning to mount a fierce, consolidated assault as soon as the Apache left the scene and Gordon energised by the increased threat to both British and Afghan forces, persuaded his crews to try and extract the troops before the Apaches departed.
His citation reads: “With little thought for his own safety and leading very much by example, Gordon displayed exemplary flying skills and considerable courage, placing his aircraft very close to the troops in order to minimise their exposure to enemy fire. With remarkable tactical awareness and impressive steadfastness under fire, Gordon held the aircraft on the ground to allow the troops time to board but it was struck by enemy fire, resulting in the loss of one of his 2 engines and an injured soldier.
With only one engine running, Gordon re-calculated his aircraft’s performance electing to conduct a highly advanced low level transition away from the pick up point. Gordon calmly flew his aircraft back to the hospital at Bastion while his crewman performed immediate first aid on his injured co-pilot.
Flt Lt Gordon said: “I am extremely proud to accept this award even though it is for just doing my job. I think the award is recognition for all the air and ground crew who operate helicopters in Afghanistan. All of them regularly take risks and go above and beyond the call of duty to protect our troops on the ground and get them home safely.”