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February 17, 2011
By Hugh McKenzie
BEING shot down was not high on the agenda when
LSA Matt Jose jumped at a posting with the Royal
Navy Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset in the UK.
A routine landing on a posting to Afghanistan went
wrong when his Sea King Mk4+ was on descent and
approaching a Forward Operating Base (FOB) as normal.
At the 50-yard mark LSA Jose came off his gun to
clear the cabin and con the chopper in to land.
"As we came over the perimeter fence there was a
huge explosion," he said.
"I looked forward, the outside of the aircraft was on
fire and there was thick smoke in the cabin -- so thick I
couldn't see the cockpit."
A few seconds later the aircraft hit the deck -- quite
hard -- but it stayed upright. LSA Jose said everyone was
disoriented and it took a couple of seconds for reality to
"I had lost comms with the front but I knew we
weren't going anywhere," he said.
As LEUT Jim Shatock and LCDR Steve Brown shut
down the engines, LSA Jose grabbed his SA80 and
Go-Pack and got his passengers, including Royal Marine
Daniel Ginn, the port gunner who was wounded, off the
LSA Jose directed everyone to the safety of the inner
compound and the FOB garrison, who had a medic wait-
ing to deal with the wounded. He then went back to the
aircraft to make sure LCDR Brown was all right.
LCDR Brown appeared at the cargo door as LSA
Jose got there, having shut the aircraft down completely.
"In the compound we had our first chance to chill out
and meet the troops; they were a friendly lot and kindly
offered us a cigarette," LSA Jose said. "It turned out to
be Steve Brown's first in 20 years."
LSA Jose is among six RAN personnel posted to the
legendary Junglies, the Sea King Mk4+ equipped Naval
Air Squadrons of the Commando Helicopter Force. 845
and 846 Naval Air Squadrons won their nickname sup-
porting the Commando Brigade in the jungles of Borneo
in the 1960s.
The four Sea King pilots and two aircrewmen
include: LEUT Colin McLeod (D Flight 846), LEUT
David Tindall (C Flight 845), LEUT Kate Munari (A
flight 846) LEUT Nick Pley (D flight 845), LSA Matt
Jose (B flight 846) and PO Jarrord Nieuwendaal.
Before joining the Junglies, LSA Jose had spent
time as a student and qualified crewman on the AS350
Squirrel at 723 Squadron and was due to convert to a
Seahawk or Sea King Squadron when he heard that there
was a posting available in the UK with the legendary
LSA Jose discovered that not many people knew
much about the posting except that the Junglies did a lot
of time away, mostly in Afghanistan supporting ISAF
operations in Helmand province and it was a full on
"In my first year I had to complete the entire abinitio
commando aircrewman's course," LSA Jose said.
"This turned out to be the most challenging and dif-
ficult course I ever attempted."
The crewman's course started at RAF Shawbury
learning to navigate in the UK, then on to Search and
Rescue Training Unit at Anglesey in Wales to learn UK
SAR techniques and procedures, then finally six months
of hard work and pain with 848 Squadron converting to
the Sea King.
The climax of the course LSA Jose said was the
"I was lucky to have my mum and sister come over
to see the UK version of this event; they weren't disap-
pointed and were especially impressed with the Junglie
display," LSA Jose said.
After the course he was posted to 846 Squadron
and not long after joining was told to join C Flight on
Exercise Taurus in HMS Ocean (the UK's Amphibious
Helicopter Carrier) early in the new year.
He said the highlight of the exercise was self-deploy-
ing through Europe to get back to the UK.
"Starting in Crete we worked our way through
Greece, Italy and France before making the trip across
the English Channel.
"For me it was an awesome experience."
LSA Jose said he never thought he would see the
Leaning Tower of Pisa or visit Monaco while he was at
A once-in-a lifetime experience -- or so he thought.
Aviators shine on
L-R, LEUT Colin
McLeod, LSA Matt
Jose and LEUT David
Tindall at Kandahar
HONOUR: (Above) HRH Prince Charles presents
LEUT Colin McLeod with his Operational Service
Medal with Afghan Clasp.
CHILLY CONDITIONS: (Below) The RAN avia-
tors participate in Exercise Wyvern Warrior on
the Salisbury Plain.
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