another great australian !!

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    An Australian Army officer took control of a British Army helicopter in Iraq and safely landed it after the pilot was hit by gunfire.

    Captain Scott Watkins, 33, of Sydney, took control of the Lynx helicopter he was co-piloting south of Baghdad on Wednesday after the pilot was injured by small arms fire from the ground.

    Captain Watkins, who is serving on an exchange with the British Army, landed the aircraft at the Camp Dogwood coalition military base.

    "The injured British pilot was then immediately evacuated to a coalition military hospital in Baghdad where he is receiving treatment, the defence department said in a statement.

    The helicopter had been flying in support of the British Black Watch Battle Group south of Baghdad.

    Captain Watkins was not injured in the attack.

    Chief of the Army Lieutenant General Peter Leahy today praised Captain Watkins, who served as his aide-de-camp in 2002.

    Captain Watkins' bravery came as no surprise to him, said Lt Gen Leahy.

    "Captain Watkins is a fine young officer," he said.

    "He epitomises everything I have come to expect from an Australian Army officer."

    AdvertisementCaptain Watkins is one of two Australian Army members on exchange with British units in southern Iraq.

    He is serving with the United Kingdom Joint Helo Force, Multi-National Division South East, which is based in the city of Basra.

    Captain Watkins said in a statement he had been in Iraq for just over two months and his tasks had been varied.

    "Tasks range from flying people to different locations around the area of operations, to doing a bit of overhead protection for convoy moves and trying to provide an eye in the sky on operations in Basra and other places," he said.

    Captain Watkins formerly served with the 161 Reconnaissance Squadron, based in Darwin.

    A defence spokesman declined to say if Captain Watkins was married.

    About 250 Australian Defence Force personnel are stationed in Iraq.

    - AAP
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