‘Because she was a professional soldier . . .’

by Andrew Stuttaford

Via the Daily Telegraph:

An [British] Army disposal expert was killed in a blast just minutes after laughing off a near miss when she stepped on another Taliban mine which turned out to be a dud, an inquest heard.

Captain Lisa Head, 29, had been lucky to survive the first explosion, when an undetected IED partially detonated under her foot, merely showering her with dust.

But after stepping away to smoke a cigarette and enjoy a “Condor moment” to gather her courage she returned to the alley in the Afghan village of Padaka, in Helmand Province.

The inquest heard she had returned to the scene because she was a “professional soldier” and had to recover the remnants of the device because Afghan civilians would die if the alley was not properly swept.

Being a “stubborn Yorkshirewoman”, she made light of the situation.

But as she knelt down to deal with the bomb she strayed out of the safe zone, triggering an explosion which no one could have survived, the Bradford hearing was told…

Colonel Gareth Collett, of Defence Intelligence based in Whitehall, told the inquest that the Padaka cluster of insurgents was responsible for many deaths amongst local civilians and British troops and that Cpt Head’s inquest was his 77th in two and a half years.

He said Cpt Head had been “very very lucky” to escape the first blast.

“You might ask why did she go back and deal with it?” he said. “It was because she was a professional soldier. If that alleyway had not been cleared locals and nationals would have been killed or maimed, because the insurgents don’t care who triggers these devices. Her response was ‘I’m OK and I’m going to crack on’”.

Recording a verdict of ‘unlawful killing’, Bradford Coroner Prof Paul Marks said: “I cannot praise too highly the courage of Lisa Head.”

One can only agree. R.I.P. 

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