Bomb expert’s gallantry medal

Members of 5131 (BD) sqn RAF Wittering, pictured are SAC(T) Latchford, front left, Cpl Waring, Cpl Stone and, back left, Sgt Farrimond, CT Lewin, Cpl Beckford, SAC(T) Croft, SAC(T) Cheeseman, SAC(T) Williams, Sgt Graham, SAC(T) Potter and CT Lowe. Picture:  SAC Adam Fletcher, RAF, Crown Copyright
Members of 5131 (BD) sqn RAF Wittering, pictured are SAC(T) Latchford, front left, Cpl Waring, Cpl Stone and, back left, Sgt Farrimond, CT Lewin, Cpl Beckford, SAC(T) Croft, SAC(T) Cheeseman, SAC(T) Williams, Sgt Graham, SAC(T) Potter and CT Lowe. Picture: SAC Adam Fletcher, RAF, Crown Copyright
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A WITTERING airman with one of the most dangerous jobs in the world has been awarded a top gallantry medal.

Chief Technician Dave Lowe (38), Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IED) Operator was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal on Friday for putting his own life on the line to clear road-side bombs to protect his colleagues in the conflict zones in Afghanistan.

Chief Tech Dave Lowe from 5131 (BD) Sqn RAF clears a road in Afghanistsan. Picture: SAC Adam Fletcher, RAF, Crown Copyright

Chief Tech Dave Lowe from 5131 (BD) Sqn RAF clears a road in Afghanistsan. Picture: SAC Adam Fletcher, RAF, Crown Copyright

The medal is awarded for “exemplary acts of bravery”, and fewer than 600 have ever been awarded.

CT Lowe, originally from Stamford, but now part of RAF Wittering with 5131 Bomb Disposal Squadron, was deployed to Afghanistan in June, 2010 for a six-month tour as a high threat operator in the Nad e Ali district.

During the six months he attended nine incidents over a ten-day period and defused fifteen pressure plate IEDs set in Taliban strongholds and on crucial supply networks for UK armed forces.

His efforts made him the busiest bomb disposal expert on tour, saving dozens of lives.

Today, the modest airman paid tribute to the rest of the team he worked with on duty.

He said: “I was very surprised to get this award, it’s a great honour and I’d like to thank my team and superiors – they deserve this more than I do.

“I’m really pleased with what I have achieved for myself and for RAF EOD (Explosive Ordnance Device).

“It’s great to represent the RAF and to work with the rest of the Armed Forces. It’s a real team effort and I work with so many different cap badges and organisations. Through that professional support and faith in your own ability, you get on with it. I always have my team’s safety in mind at all times and want to make sure that everyone comes back safely.

“I work with a team of 4 people that include an infantry escort.

“I also work with other teams that may include a search team and Arms Explosive Search dogs.

“The majority of our work is to respond to a request for assistance because a device has been found.

“When we clear the roads, it’s hard work but very rewarding, as the waiting troops can pass to get the supplies through.”

CT Lowe was the first RAF serviceman not in the Royal Logistic Corps to pass the course needed to be a high threat IED operator

He said: “As part of our trade we are armourers and weapons technicians, so we understand explosives, building missiles and looking after bombs, so it’s a natural progression to become a specialist to dispose of them. The responsibility and diversity of tasks is very interesting.

“There is a ladder of EOD qualifications. Historically only the Royal Logistic Corps have done the ‘high threat’ IED, which is the more advanced IED work in Afghanistan.

“To pass the course was amazing. It shows the other Services that the RAF has got something to offer and that we are multi-skilled specialists.”