Page 127 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
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  Doing the job of a US heavy-weapons platoon commander involved three main considerations: the weapons, the vehicles, and above all the men. Our Humvees were equipped with .50 cals and TOW anti-tank missiles. I had to learn how best to employ the vehicles, and get to grips with the types of terrain they could tackle, the US doctrine, and how to use our dismounts – both as guides and scouts, and to clear enemy positions once they’d been engaged from afar. The best and initially most challenging part of the experience was working with the sixteen men who constituted 2nd Platoon. Unlike reserve Riflemen in the UK, who train as volunteers, many US Guardsmen were counting down the days until the exercise was over – so building rapport, motivation and a sense of purpose was crucial.
In the British Army, we like to see ourselves as more subtle and astute than our ‘loud and proud’ Yank cousins, but like all stereotypes, there is both truth and falsehood in this image. After a month in America, I came away with an enduring affection and respect for the American soldier; they’re frank, tough, and a damn good craic!
        This year, members of A Company also took a uniquely personal part in commemorating the Regiment’s history during the commemorations of the 75th Anniversary of D Day. On the night of 6th June 1944, 180 men from D Company, 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (the Ox & Bucks) took part in Operation Deadstick: the glider-borne capture of Pegasus Bridge. The daring assault, led by Major John Howard, was a resounding success – and enabled the subsequent breakout from Sword Beach. As descendants of the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry – and the only RIFLES unit still permanently based in both Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire – it seemed only right for members of A Company to take part in a 75 mile run to Pegasus Bridge to commemorate the event.
    Treasonous though they may be, they’re the best friends we’ve got...
 “HAM & JAM”! Run to Pegasus Bridge
The Run to Pegasus Bridge followed that taken by the original Ox & Bucks gliders, beginning at Tarrant Rushton Airfield in Dorset and finishing on Pegasus Bridge. This saw the 7 RIFLES team run through night over Dorset and the New Forest to Portsmouth, covering some 62 miles before a well-earned rest on the ferry to Ouistreham. The runners then formed up on the Caen Canal tow path early on 6th June, setting off on a further 3 miles to Pegasus Bridge. Throughout, each runner was assigned the name of a soldier from the original coup de main force, and proudly wore the names of the soldier they were honouring. As the team approached the bridge, they were greeted by cheering crowds and fellow
Riflemen, together with the Ringwood Pipe Band to lead them over the bridge. The only task left was to honour the men of Glider 4, who had landed 10 miles from the bridge and gallantly fought their way back – the final 10 miles of the team’s 75 mile route. The 7 RIFLES team consisted of Captains Rick Fletcher and Paul Franklin, Sjt Paul Holmes, Sgt Donna White, Cpl David Phillips, Rfn Tom Russell, Pte Jamie Luesley, Pte Racheal Cheetham – joined by WO2 Steve Cox (4 RIFLES) and CSjt David Comerford (2 RIFLES). The run itself was organised as a fund-raising event for the Veterans Charity, with the 7 RIFLES team raising £6475 (£8093.75 with Gift Aid) and counting.
        A Company has also witnessed some notable sporting success this year, with two soldiers from the company participating in winter sliding sports. OCdt Carina Evans became the first woman in the modern era to ride the renowned Cresta Run from ‘top’, while Cpl David Phillips joined Exercise RACING ICE 1 to work on his skeleton bob technique, ahead of the Army Championships. Lying head-first on a sled travelling at 100kmh, and steering only through small alterations of body position, is not for the faint-hearted! Indeed, it requires core strength, flexibility and self-dis-
cipline – not to mention a taste for adrenalin. The week-long exercise took place in Igls, near Innsbruck – a track built in 1976 for the Winter Olympics – and saw Cpl Phillips develop his technique under the watchful eye of World Cup and Olympic-level coaches. The Army Champi- onships followed; this year in Konigsee, southern Bavaria. Though he missed out on a podium finish this time, he held his own against an up and coming field.
Maj Michael Hrycak OC A Coy 7 RIFLES

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