River Wissey Lovell Fuller


May 2003

Conflict in the Gulf

Hello again,

With any luck, by the time you read this, the Iraqi war will, to all intents, be over. We must all rejoice at the apparent small loss of life on both sides of the conflict. But we will await a more formal appraisal before we know how many innocent Iraqi's were committed to their maker in this dubious conflict.

As a long serving member of the armed forces, I must confess to considerable delight at the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch of the US forces and, the later, recovery of the seven US prisoners of war who had, apparently, been set free by the Iraqi's in their haste to escape the coalition forces. But I bitterly regret the loss of some 30 British lives to so-called Friendly Fire! What a contradiction of terms that phrase really is! For whatever reason, some 30 members of the British Armed Forces lost their lives in the Iraqi conflict. Our thoughts must be with the families and friends of those who so tragically lost their lives.

Two days after the loss of a Tornado crew from our local base here at RAF Marham, I had the privilege to take lunch with their acting Station Commander Wing Commander Mike Oldham MA BSc RAF. Mike, perchance, was born in the same year as my eldest daughter so I found that we were easily on the same wavelength despite the disparity of our ages. My overwhelming impression of the response of Mike Oldham to events in the Middle East was one of genuine compassion and a very real concern for the bereaved families. I asked him how the Squadron Commander had taken to the realisation that he had been the real target of the Patriot Missile that had downed the Marham tornado but had been able to avoid it with disastrous consequences to one of his squadron members. To my surprise, Mike said that all the Squadron Commander wanted was to be back at Marham caring for the families of his lost colleagues.

On a more mundane note, by the time you read this, Easter will be long gone. I trust you all had your fill of Easter eggs and enjoyed, as we did, a really great family party. I speak, with foresight, in stating that the Ferryway family barbecue was held in bright sunshine with temperatures around the mid to high 60 degrees F. If I was wrong, write to me and complain; I need the letters!

Ray Thompson

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