Military honours for female winchman for daring rescue off Milford Haven
12:00pm Monday 7th October 2013 in News
THE only female winchman in the RAF has been honoured for her bravery during a daring rescue off the Pembrokeshire coast.
Sergeant Rachael Robinson, 37, saved a fisherman's life in a Force 8 gale 50 nautical miles west of Milford Haven.
She was repeatedly smashed against the deck of a French fishing boat as she dangled from an RAF Sea King helicopter on March 21 this year.
Sgt Robinson and her pilot and handler Flt Lt Christian Wilkins, 28, tried six times to reach a Portuguese crew member, who had cut his head open and was in need of urgent assistance.
A lifeboat was unable to reach the 25m fishing vessel because of the terrible weather conditions, but after three further attempts Sgt Robinson was able to get on board.
She said: "It was like running into a wall.”
Flt Lt Christian Wilkins said of his colleague: "There was no question from her. She was going out, she wanted to go out.
“She is completely fearless.”
The pair were among the 177 members of the British armed forces recognised in the latest Operational Honours.
Sgt Robinson received a Queen's Gallantry Medal for an exemplary act of bravery, while Flt Lt Wilkins received the Air Force Cross for his part in the rescue.
The Queen will present the medals at an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace later this year.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “Those honoured have displayed exceptional dedication and commitment to their country, their comrades and the mission.
“As we enter the final phases of combat operations in Afghanistan, British forces deserve our recognition and gratitude for their role in helping to keep us safe in the UK.”
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