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Let’s not take things for granted Part 6 – Time to Remember

Being a member of the military does have some great moments and of course some that take the wind out of our sails and leaves us in an element of disbelief and shock.  This is about one of those incidents that happened on 14th April 1994 and is a personal account of what happened through the media of a poem I have written.

This all takes place in Northern Iraq during a time when there was not a conflict in the region and, with thanks to the Royal Marines, involves the movement of the Kurdish people back to their villages in the region.  Most of the villages had been destroyed by the Iraqi Army and they basically had nothing, therefore, a team aptly names the Military Coordination Centre or MCC for short was set up.  The team comprised of American, British, French and Turkish forces with the assistance provided by the Peshmerga, a gallant and fearful means of protection.

This is the 25th Anniversary of the event and I would like to make a special remembrance to all 26 of those killed on that day by friendly fire.  This included a Major from the Irish Guards and a Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Artillery.  This incident had a huge coverup by the American military and the full details can be found at  I was one of the lucky ones as I was taken off the rear Black Hawk 30 minutes before they left and went out on a mobile patrol instead.  That does not take away the horror of it all and so glad that I am able to talk about it as it would certainly have raised my stress to an unmanageable level.  What was important to me was that with the help of a few Americans, a member of the French Army and several Kurds, we recovered the unfortunate and was able to return them to their loved ones.

There is one day in my life I will always remember with sadness in my heart
It was 14th April 94 when this disaster took place and the memories began to start

I was working with the MCC in Iraq doing some wonderful things for the Kurdish race
Where our Blackhawks were tasked with flying to a location to meet their leaders face to face

I went out on a mobile patrol to watch a simulated attack by some jets planes
I received a short message something has happened we need you back at the base once again

Our people on the ground sent a message that the Blackhawks were burning and had crashed
They were shot down by two American AF15 Eagles and they both came down in a flash

So many people were killed that day Kurdish guards, military personnel not forgetting the civilians as well
Including two British officers who I will always remember with sadness but that is another story to tell

A few of us were brave enough to go and collect their remains
Whatever got into those pilots minds they must be totally insane

Too many questions left unanswered too many doubts why this disaster took place
But I will always remember them and for the pilots, well their action that day was a total and unnecessary disgrace

Harry Shapland and Jonathan Swann you will always be a good memory to me
Let us make sure this never happens again but no doubt in my mind it will happen again just you wait and see