A NORTHUMBERLAND soldier has told how he served alongside Prince Harry on a tour of war-torn Afghanistan.
Corporal Graham Carr said it was “an honour” to work with the third-in-line to the throne, known simply as Captain Wales among comrades in Helmand Province.
The prince was posted to Afghanistan last September to command a £45m Apache helicopter – one of the military’s most sophisticated aircraft.
During his tour the Apaches flew missions supporting Nato troops fighting the Taliban and accompanied British Chinook and US Black Hawk medical helicopters during casualty evacuations.
But rather than pulling rank, the young royal, who has recently returned to the UK, was happy to take orders, Cpl Carr has revealed.
The father-of-one, from Cramlington, was responsible for preparing Prince Harry’s Apache attack helicopter with Hellfire missiles, CRV-7 rockets and 30mm cannon rounds.
And at that point, the 28-year-old soldier found himself in charge of a prince.
“He might be third-in-line to the throne,” said Cpl Carr, “but that’s how it works out there.”
As an Arming Loading Point Commander (ALPC) with 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps (AAC), Cpl Carr led a six-man team who made the aircraft ready as quickly as possible.
“I like to liken it to an F1 crew,” said Cpl Carr, who worked on the Apache flight line in Camp Bastion. “When the aircraft comes in, it’s our job to turn it around, get it done as safely as possible, get the munitions and fuel on board so it can go out and complete its task.”
Cpl Carr was responsible for the important task of inspecting the helicopter to make the final checks on the weaponry, and communicating with the pilots and the operations room through a cable which runs off the aircraft.
He said: “I can’t think of any other jobs in the army where a Corporal is in charge of a Captain. But when I’m plugged in, I’m in charge of the aircraft.”
Having a prince in the squadron did not make a difference to daily life on Operation Herrick 17, according to the groundcrew engineer.
But he did admit there is some banter from some colleagues in the AAC, who now refer to the unit as 662 “Royal“ Squadron.
The ALPC, who now lives in Ipswich with his wife Kim, 27, and his six-month old son, Peter, said working alongside a prince is something he will never forget.
“It’s certainly an honour, and it’s something that I’ll tell the kids about, and the grandkids, in the future,” he said.