Paralympics

JJ Chalmers Reunited With Life-Saver Pilot On Flight To Paralympics

Royal Marines veteran was flown out of Afghanistan following a bomb blast in 2011, and is now part of the Paralympics TV team in Tokyo.

Former Royal Marine JJ Chalmers "burst into tears" on a flight to the Tokyo Paralympic Games, when he was reunited with the pilot who flew him out of Afghanistan a decade ago.

Now a TV presenter and part of the Games on-air coverage, he was wounded by an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2011.

Mr Chalmers has since become a familiar face through Invictus Games and Strictly Come Dancing audiences, but never thought he would meet the "profound and important" figure who got him home when he was injured.

"I was flown back from Afghanistan in an induced coma – it was 48 hours after I'd been injured," the veteran told BBC 5 Live.

"Fast forward then, 10 years later, when I'm getting onto this plane to fly out to Tokyo to do one of my dream jobs," he continued.

"It was a special enough moment as it was, before the air hostess pulled me to one side when she saw my name.

"She said, 'Our pilot actually flew you back from Afghanistan, flew you back into the UK, when you were injured 10 years ago. He's noticed that and he would like you to come this way'."

Hearing that pilot David Ellis wished to meet him and speak to him a decade after his injury, Mr Chalmers "burst into tears".

In a blast that killed two of his comrades, Mr Chalmers broke his neck, lost two fingers and shattered his right elbow.

He suffered numerous holes blown in his leg as well as a crushed eye socket and burst eardrums, living with leftover shrapnel in his body for years.

The pilot flying the former commando to Tokyo had recognised his name and matched up internet searches of Mr Chalmers' injury dates with his own RAF flying logbook.

Mr Chalmers said the pair "were able to talk like two veterans" but that he "cut the nonsense" when departing the plane.

The flying log book belonging to David Ellis, the pilot who brought JJ Chalmers home in 2011 (Picture: JJ Chalmers/ Twitter).

He told the pilot: "I owe something that I'll never be able to repay to you. I'm unbelievably grateful for what you did for me. Thank you."

Mr Chalmers described the "perfect" response from Mr Ellis: "It was 'We all had a job to do. That's what you did, that’s what I did. That's what we all did'."

Cover image: JJ Chalmers with David Ellis (Picture: JJ Chalmers/Twitter).