Manage episode 358975972 series 2813344
Tip Cullen, former Royal Marines Commando tells us about losing 8 of his friends in the very first operation of Op Telic 1.
He’s telling this story “...to keep their memory alive” and “...for the families that had to deal with the consequences…” also for “...people to empathise with their sacrifice, or their will to protect what we call freedom…Those people were legends…”
“We deployed as a Brigade Recce Force...mostly Royal Marines Commandos, main disciplines Mountain Leaders or specialists in reconnaissance and snipers…”
“A couple of days before the invasion, everything racks up. We were rehearsing for an aviation assault…The helicopter that I was rehearsing on, and I was ordered to invade with, was a helicopter that would eventually crash.”
Orders were given ready for the invasion. “Everyone was chomping at the bit, this is what we're here for, to do our job as professionally as we can.” At the last minute, Tip was ordered to board a different helicopter and to this day, doesn't know why. He said goodbye to his mates, “Big hugs…See you all when we link up again…”
From Tip’s helicopter, he saw his friends,
“...dive in a straight line, completely vertical towards the ground and then gone in an instant blast…massive fireball…then we got ‘mission abort’.”
“I lost such close friends and in a very short space of time, from chatting to them, to holding their hands, to giving them hugs…to disintegrating underneath you and forever that will never leave my memory…that will always leave me unsettled for the rest of my days.”
Many thought Tip had been on that helicopter.
This was the start of the invasion and these were our first casualties.
“We were very lucky to have such quality people… to pick ourselves up and do all those guys who died justice.”