Discovering that your bosses think you are the best at something is a great feeling, something Corporal Ben “Scotty” Parker of 7 Flight AAC in Brunei can boast.
Cpl Parker has been awarded the Ferranti Trophy, an award given to an individual judged to be best aviation crewman of the year.
The Army Air Corps (AAC) Awards Committee gather annually to consider nominations received from AAC units across the British Army.
The award-winning aircrewman was nominated by Major Luke Hoare, Officer Commanding 7 Flight AAC, who operate three Bell 212 helicopters in Brunei. When asked why he nominated Cpl Parker, Maj Hoare said:
“There’s two big examples I can use, both involving him essentially saving life or catastrophe by his actions, going way above that which I expect from any crewman.”
One of the main roles 7 Flight AAC have in Brunei is medical or casualty evacuation, which means the unit constantly have personnel on a readiness state of 60 minutes to move to go and collect soldiers who are injured in the jungle.
VIDEO: An example of a medic in Brunei being winched down in an open landing point - not the actual event or location
The first situation that led to Cpl Parker’s nomination was his response to recovering a casualty who had “essentially fallen off a cliff” within Training Area E in British Forces Brunei.
The casualty was unable to move or be moved due to c-spine complications so therefore required a hoist recovery. Cpl Parker received the phone call on a Sunday just as he had lit the BBQ for a family meal. He said:
“It was almost like a cold start. One minute I’m relaxing, next minute I’m briefing and I’m walking.
“My world is on fire a little bit because there’s a lot of admin to get wrapped up in less than an hour from getting the phone call to lifting.”
As the aircraft arrived at the scene, it became apparent to Cpl Parker that it was not as large an area from where the aircraft was positioned as expected.
This meant he “would have to do some trickery with the winch and the medic”.
When you look out the helicopter from the crewman’s position, you can see a lot of trees and “because there are no discernible objects, i.e. a car or a building, it is very hard to judge how tall the trees are or how wide the river-bed is.”
He had to send the winch down from a height of approximately 240 feet with an eight-foot metal stretcher and a medic attached.
The citation for his nomination reads:
"Due to the severity of injury and challenging ground, (this) resulted in an unprepared winch hole as the only option for rescue.”
Thanks to his experience as a crewman, Cpl Parker is at a level where he could assess the situation as it changed and adapt the initial plan to reach the casualty. This meant that he “just found the holes and went for it.”
When asked if it was one of the most memorable days within his British Army career, he said:
“Looking back, it certainly was, but on the day, I was just doing my job.
“I wasn’t thinking about any of the glory … it was just about getting the injured person to hospital in a timely manner so that he could have medical treatment.”
In his nomination, Maj Hoare wrote:
"This action was described by personnel on the ground with the casualty as ‘threading a needle through the trees and worthy of the highest praise."
The second event saw Cpl Parker identify a faulty hydraulic system in the aircraft while deep in Ulu Tutong Jungle.
The fault was a small movement on a gauge the size of a 50 pence coin that he spotted from a range of approximately eight feet. Maj Hoare said:
“It was a hydraulic gauge, he saw it move into the amber and red sections, and this let us - in advance of what may have been quite a bad emergency – get the aircraft on the ground safely, way before the aircraft damaged itself.”
As a recipient of the Ferranti Trophy, Cpl Parker receives a personalised, framed award certificate and the trophy itself which is currently en route to Brunei.
The praise for Cpl Parker's achievements has filtered onto social media as well: