Anna Irwin helped rescue eight British soldiers

Basingstoke Gazette: Pic by The Sun Pic by The Sun

A CREWMAN from RAF Odiham has spoken of her pride after being honoured for her life-saving actions in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Anna Irwin, from 18 Squadron, used an M60 machine gun bolted to a Chinook to fire at Taliban fighters during the rescue of eight British soldiers.

The 34-year-old was part of an Immediate Response Team which responded to a suicide bomb incident at a UK patrol base in Helmand Province.

Last Wednesday, she received the Most Outstanding Airman accolade at The Sun Military Awards. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall presented the trophy.

Sgt Irwin said: “I feel so proud to receive this award. There are so many people in the Armed Forces deserving of this recognition, and I feel absolutely honoured that the judging panel chose me.

“It’s hard for me to think I had been nominated. For the guys on ground it was a lot worse.”

Talking about the incident, she said the Chinook landed in a firefight, while a rocket-propelled grenade explosion rocked the aircraft.

She fired the machine gun at enemy positions as the Chinook took off with the eight injured British troops on board.

The ceremony, held at the National Mari-time Museum, saw political figures and Hollywood actors honour those personnel who put their lives on the line for the country.

Guests at the awards event included Prime Minister David Cameron and Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins. The ceremony was shown on ITV1 on Monday.

It is not the first time that service personnel from RAF Odiham have been recognised at the awards, known as The Millies.

Pilots from the north Hampshire airbase won in the same category as Sgt Irwin between 2009 and 2011, while the UK Chinook Force won the Best Unit award in 2008.

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