THREE Hercules pilots who helped to repatriate the fallen from Afghanistan are training hard for an epic run – a mile for each of the 448 killed during the conflict.
Flt Lieuts Rob Platt, Graeme Hunt and Tom Mountney each spent time based in the war zone and were involved in flying the dead to Camp Bastion on the first leg of the journey back to the UK. They also carried many casualties in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Now the trio, who used to be based at Lyneham, are preparing to mark the end of Operation Herrick combat operations and pay tribute to their fallen comrades by completing the equivalent of 17 marathons in 17 days.
Father of three Rob, from Great Somerford, explained: “We have seen a lot of the impact that the war has had on people.”
One of the charities they aim to help with their £10,000 fundraising target is the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation set up in memory a young Royal Marines officer killed in 2008.
Rob, who came up with the idea, said: “We have had great support from everybody. Currently we have more than £3,000 in donations.”
But they are under no illusions about the scale of the challenge.
“All of us are fairly fit and happy to go for a run, but not over the distances we are tackling now. We have never done marathons before.”
However Graeme, a dad of three from Lechlade and Tom of Cheltenham, had both completed the gruelling All Arms Commando course which features a 30-mile speed march across Dartmoor.
But organising the run has not been without its difficulties. “It has only been in the last month that all three of us have been in the country at the same time,” said Rob.
They are due to set off on Monday and will raise cash for Combat Stress, Blesma and the RAF Association.
Visit 444run.co.uk to sponsor them.