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From Droitwich to Afghanistan
3:50pm Wednesday 2nd October 2013 in News
A DROITWICH Spa carpenter has swapped his day job for a military tour in Afghanistan.
Army reservist Lance Bombardier Matthew Blackwell, 26, a former pupil of Droitwich Spa High School, Briar Mill, has been deployed to the war-torn country on his first tour of duty.
He is a soldier in the 47 Royal Artillery, attached to 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Mr Blackwell has left behind a job as a carpenter where he specialises in house improvements, to complete a six month tour as a Desert Hawk Three (DH3) operator.
Speaking about his role, he said: “The DH3 is an unmanned air system and is used to watch over route 611, the main road and vital supply route between Sangin in the North of Helmand Province and Lashkar Gah in the south. We’ve been keeping an eye out for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and firing points.
“We’ve kept the road safe. The guys have been out on a few patrols and found IEDs and insurgent fire teams and have dealt with them. They’ve done a great job. I think the 611 is going to be a lot safer now,” he said.
He has been improving his public speaking skills over the last six months when doubling up for work in the helicopter handling team for incoming and outgoing aircraft.
“I’ve been giving safety briefings to up to 50 people at a time so I’ve had to raise my voice a lot more than usual. This has given me a lot more confidence which I’ll take back with me,” he said.
Outside of his military and civilian role, Mr Blackwell enjoys hiking, camping, and rock climbing.
When asked what he has missed during his tour, he said: “We have been on ration packs for a while now so I’ve been missing decent food. I’m looking forward to some Italian food and a nice big steak.”
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