Top Bravery Awards for Royal Air Force’s Thames Rescue Hero

18 March 2016

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Royal Air Force hero Senior Aircraftman Shane Mitchley is to be awarded a top honour from the Queen for saving a woman’s life in the Thames in June 2015.

SAC Shane Mitchley

SAC Mitchley – based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire – will receive the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery for his act of courage, as well as a prestigious award from the Royal Humane Society. SAC Mitchley is among a number of RAF personnel honoured for hard work and courage on operations worldwide in today’s Operational Honours and Awards list.

SAC Mitchley was part of a team from the RAF’s 54(R) Squadron visiting London to learn about the RAF’s history when the team heard cries for help from a woman stricken in the Thames near Westminster Bridge. At great risk to himself SAC Mitchley dived in to the treacherously choppy waters, struggling against a strong current to reach the woman while she struggled to keep her head above the water. At one point he had to dive beneath the water to secure the woman to a life buoy so that other RAF team-mates could haul her to safety.

SAC Mitchley, who serves with the RAF’s 54 (R) Squadron, said: “I’m very honoured and very proud. I’m no hero; it was a spur of the moment decision, but not one I regret in the slightest. If I came across a similar situation I’d do the same again without hesitation.”

In addition to the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery, SAC Mitchley is to receive the Royal Humane Society’s prestigious Testimonial on Vellum, signed by HRH Princess Alexandria, for his actions. RAF Waddington’s Station Commander, Group Captain Al Marshall, said: “SAC Mitchley is an outstanding airman and a credit to the Service. His response in entering the Thames to save a member of the public was an act of outstanding courage in the face of very dangerous river conditions. His actions were exemplary and selfless. He is truly deserving of his commendation from Her Majesty the Queen.”

Also listed among today’s Operational Honours and Awards recipients is Sergeant Michael Beamish, a former RAF Search and Rescue winch operator. Sgt Beamish is to receive the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in the Air for his selfless attempt to save the life of a critically ill sailor near the Falkland Islands in June 2015. Despite mountainous seas Sgt Beamish winched down to the ice-coated Royal Fleet Auxiliary supply ship Gold Rover to provide first aid to the sailor, winched him to safety and later donated his own blood to him in hospital.

Operational Honours - March 2016

Editor: Sqn Ldr Andy Wasley

Photograph: Sgt Mike Jones

SAC Shane Mitchley.

© MOD Crown Copyright 2016

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