Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Tributes pour in for Gateshead Falklands hero Brian Jopling



Tributes have been pouring in on social media to a Falklands hero from Gateshead, a recipient of the Queen’s Gallantry Medal, who has died from cancer at the age of 62. Brian Jopling, who was married to Rosie with a daughter, Emma, and son, Andrew, made the news in October 1982 for his role in saving lives on board Tyneside-built ship Atlantic Conveyor, after it was hit and set on fire by two Exocet missiles during the Falklands campaign. The then 30-year-old Flight Sergeant who, as a member of the Puma helicopter contingent on board, had been manning an air defence machine gun on the bridge, was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal - given for acts of exemplary bravery - for leading crew through dense smoke at the order to abandon the sinking ship. In the sea he cut a life raft free from the burning vessel, giving up his place to other survivors, then spent up to two hours in the freezing waters of the South Atlantic. The citation, when he received his medal from the Queen, read: “Flight Sergeant Jopling acted in the finest traditions of the Royal Air Force and his selfless conduct undoubtedly saved many lives”. Older brother Alan, who was also in the RAF and served in the Falklands, recalls: “We were at home when we got this telephone call saying Brian was ok but at the time we didn’t know the ship had been sunk. “They sent him home - he didn’t have any of the counselling that goes on now - then he was back out.” He said his brother didn’t talk about what happened but 25 years later he was asked to give a talk about his experience to his old squadron, 18 Squadron, and did so but said: “It’s taken me 25 years to forget it and now you want to hear about it”. Among those paying tribute online were some not fully are of the extent of Mr Jopling’s colourful RAF career which also included flying the Queen and prime ministers. “Some have said they never knew he got the medal from the Queen. He never boasted or bragged,” Read more  HERE  R.I.P.