Bomb expert from Stamford receives gallantry medal

Chief Technician David Lowe
Chief Technician David Lowe

AN airman with one of the most dangerous jobs in the world has been awarded a top gallantry medal.

Chief Technician Dave Lowe, 38, an improvised explosive device disposal operator, was given the Queen’s Gallantry Medal last week for putting his own life on the line to clear road-side bombs to protect his colleagues in the conflict zones in Afghanistan.

The medal is awarded for “exemplary acts of bravery”, and fewer than 600 have ever been awarded.

CT Lowe, who comes from Stamford, serves with 5131 Bomb Disposal Squadron at RAF Wittering, which was deployed to the Nad e Ali district of Afghanistan in June, 2010.

During the six-month tour working as a high-threat operator, he dealt with nine incidents over a ten-day period and defused 15 pressure plate IEDs set in Taliban strongholds and on crucial supply networks for UK armed forces.

His efforts made him the busiest bomb disposal expert on tour, saving dozens of lives.

This week he paid tribute to the rest of the team he worked with.

He said: “I was very surprised to get this award. It’s a great honour and I’d like to thank my team and superiors – they deserve this more than I do.

“I’m really pleased with what I have achieved for myself and for RAF EOD (Explosive Ordnance Device).

“It’s great to represent the RAF and to work with the rest of the armed forces.

“The majority of our work is to respond to a request for assistance because a device has been found.

“When we clear the roads, it’s hard work but very rewarding, as the waiting troops can pass to get the supplies through.”

CT Lowe said he worked with a team of four people that includes an infantry escort and also worked with other teams, including a search team and arms explosive search dogs.

“It’s a real team effort and I work with so many different cap badges and organisations,” he said.

“Through that professional support and faith in your own ability, you get on with it.

“I always have my team’s safety in mind at all times and want to make sure that everyone comes back safely.”

CT Lowe was the first RAF serviceman not in the Royal Logistic Corps to pass the course needed to be a high threat IED operator

He said: “As part of our trade we are armourers and weapons technicians, so we understand explosives, building missiles and looking after bombs, so it’s a natural progression to become a specialist to dispose of them.

“The responsibility and diversity of tasks is very interesting.

“There is a ladder of EOD qualifications. Historically only the Royal Logistic Corps have done the ‘high threat’ IED, which is the more advanced IED work in Afghanistan.

“To pass the course was amazing. It shows the other services that the RAF has got something to offer and that we are multi-skilled specialists.”