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Chinook Crew 'Chick': Highs and Lows of Forces Life from the Longest Serving Female RAF Chinook Force Crewmember

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S. If you’re on it, take it with care, it puts you in a very bad headspace before it pulls you out…that’s how antidepressants work. After two deployments to Iraq, followed by 10 to Afghanistan, Ms McConaghy's own mental health struggles left her feeling suicidal (Picture: Liz McConaghy).

Keep your head down, get stuck in the same as the rest and be the best ‘person’ at your job,” she added. I always used to look at the casualties and the bodies that we pick up on MERT as just a really precious piece of freight because I think if I start to humanise them then that really would have been the start of the undoing of me and I think a lot of people felt the same," McConaghy said. I’d kind of ignored it because we were on Herrick and there was a war to be fought, and then it started to get so bad I couldn’t fly.Other casualties would also be seeing their friends dying on the floor beside them, but you couldn’t say anything to make them better, you just had to get on with your job and get them back to base and to the HLS Nightingale hospital at Camp Bastion,” she explained. She was also on the last 1310 Flight deployment there as the armed forces withdrew 10 years later, handing it back to the Afghan National Army. Look, she’s the girl doing this job,’ you’re almost saying that they’re not capable of it in the first place.

The good thing about the Chinook” Liz explained , “compared to something like the Puma and even the Merlin is that it’s got a lot of redundant space.I was always really worried that someone would have to take my bullet, you feel like if you don’t go, what if something happens and I’m meant to be there and I’m not? I knew we were about to crash so I braced myself hard against the door frame and placed my hand on the release straps of my harness,” she said.

I really wanted to become the first master aircrewman to stay in and do the job, but sadly my neck had other ideas. I wasn’t able to be with people, I began to spiral and it triggered PTSD as I began to relive life at war.She was also the only female ‘crewman’ on the Chinook wing for four years and the longest serving as well. LIZ MCCONAGHY is an ex-RAF Chinook crewmember who has deployed worldwide with the CH47 fleet, including to Iraq and Afghanistan. Liz McConaghy, from a small town in County Down, spent a total of seventeen years flying with the RAF's Chinook Fleet. McConaghy watched her crewmate plunge towards the open central hatch, saved only by a safety harness around his waist attached to the airframe. It provides a window into the unique camaraderie and unwavering dedication that define the military community.

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