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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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McConaghy said that the most frequently asked, and least favorite, question over the years has been the challenges she has faced as a female crewman.

I’ve met so many people via social media who tag themselves as the broken soldier or the forgotten veteran. 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. Moreover, "Chinook Crew 'Chick'" offers valuable perspectives on the sacrifices made by servicemen and women, shedding light on the emotional toll of deployments and the strain it can place on personal relationships. But one of the unique things is a place “The harbour Area” for veterans and Emergency Service to start a business from.Veteran-turned-author Liz McConaghy was the only female 'crewman' on the Chinook wing for four years and after 17 and half years of service, has written 'Chinook Crew 'Chick': Highs and Lows of Forces Life from the Longest Serving Female RAF Chinook Force Crewmember'.

But just like anything in your body, the bone you break or whatever, with the right time and methods you can heal, and you can move on and recover. Commenting on this year's Women in Defence awards and Ms McConaghy's win, Alidad Moghaddam, CEO of Defence Discount Service said: "Liz's journey resonated deeply with us at Defence Discount Service. Liz is one of six women who has served as a loadmaster in the RAF, and for four years, was the only female crewman on the Chinook wing. In 2005, Liz was first deployed to Afghanistan and she’d go on to complete 10 tours as part of the medical helicopter response team providing emergency assistance to wounded personnel.

The Army Flying Museum at Middle Wallop, Hampshire has gained great respect for its monthly lecture series and on 30 January, the Museum is thrilled to host a very special evening with Liz McConaghy, the author of the best-selling book ‘Chinook Crew Chick’. Her career saw her amass two deployments to Iraq and 10 to Helmand, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Herrick, which gave her an insightful and very personal perspective on war. The author's captivating storytelling and her ability to provide a unique perspective make this book a true gem.

In her astounding career Liz McConaghy completed two deployments to Iraq followed by ten deployments to Helmand province in Afghanistan in support of the enduring Operation Herrick campaign. It was never intended to be published, but after speaking with a friend I was convinced to send it to a couple of publishers, and it was picked up. She deployed many times to both Iraq and Afghanistan, including flying on the medical missions known as ‘MERT’, recovering badly injured troops. Look, she’s the girl doing this job,’ you’re almost saying that they’re not capable of it in the first place. 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.Liz turned to writing both poetry and her autobiography following a tough battle with PTSD years after leaving the service, in the hope it may help others with their mental health. A struggle with PTSD escalated, and in August 2020, I faced my darkest hour, attempting to take my own life. McConaghy’s Chinook, despite taking her to the worst war zones, made her feel safe, even though her daily reality was filled with danger. Her survival from both the battles in foreign lands and in her own head led her to begin telling her story, in the hope she can help others win their wars. After two deployments to Iraq followed by 10 to Afghanistan, her own mental health struggles left Liz feeling detached from herself emotionally and suicidal.

You learn to fly on a little helicopter, which is the Griffon (training helicopter) and then you get posted to whichever helicopter type you want to go on, and for me, that was always the Chinook. 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.McConaghy watched her crewmate plunge towards the open central hatch, saved only by a safety harness around his waist attached to the airframe. Flying into war zones to rescue severely wounded soldiers, Liz flew the Boeing CH-47 Chinook – often referred to as the ‘flying ambulance’. Having passed the course, she was sent to Afghanistan in March 2006, the first of 10 deployments to the country over the next eight years.

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