Saturday, 22 March 2014

Sqn Ldr Brian Jopling QGM 1951-2014

First and foremost Brian was a person who always would put others first, whether it was his Family; Rosie, Emma and Andrew  or any of his friends, and I count myself as one of those friends, we had not seen each other for 23 years and yet when we met it was as if we had never been apart. Below is the citation for which Brian won the Queens Gallantry Medal whilst en route to the Falklands; it sums up Brian, and how he lived his life.
Flight Sergeant Jopling is an air loadmaster employed since October 1981 as a crewman on No. 18 Squadron, Royal Air Force Odiham. On 25th May 1982 he was on board the Steam Ship Atlantic Conveyor in the South Atlantic as part of the 18 Squadron deployment in support of Operation CORPORATE. During the late afternoon, the ship was attacked and hit by an Exocet missile. Flight Sergeant Jopling was manning an air defence machine gun position on the bridge during the attack. The missile started a fire on the ship which rapidly spread out of control and the decision was taken to abandon the stricken vessel. Flight Sergeant Jopling was among the last to leave the bridge and, as he descended towards the main deck, he was enveloped by thick black smoke. He rapidly donned his respirator and led several people onwards in a human chain but, realising that it would be impossible for the others to survive without respirators, he had to retreat. He eventually found an alternative path within the ship and led his party of survivors to the main deck where they climbed over the side and entered the water prior to boarding a liferaft. The liferaft Flight Sergeant Jopling selected was one of the few remaining and was overcrowded; he, together with several others, was unable to board it. The sea was very cold and night had fallen, adding to the difficulties. The liferaft was still attached to the ship and was being buffeted against the ship's side as the ship rolled. Realising the danger this represented to the liferaft and its occupants, Flight Sergeant Jopling made his way around the liferaft and, despite being struck several times by the ship, eventually managed to sever the lines holding the liferaft to the blazing hulk. As the occupants of the liferaft became more organised, other survivors were gradually brought on board. Flight Sergeant Jopling appreciated that as he was wearing aircrew survival equipment, he was better placed than other survivors in the water. He therefore elected to remain in the sea, encouraging and helping men to hold onto the liferaft; only when he had ensured that there were no more survivors in the water, did he allow himself to be dragged, exhausted, aboard. He was in the water for between one and two hours in extremely hazardous conditions. Flight Sergeant Jopling acted in the finest traditions of the Royal Air Force and his selfless conduct undoubtedly saved many lives.




We served together in the Royal Air Force and raised a boy and a girl each, of similar ages  sharing holidays and service life. One of those magical friends that are always there for you; even if life moves us in different directions for periods of time. I am devastated, so I cannot imagine how  Rosie, Emma and Andrew are feeling.


4 comments:

  1. A hero, thoughts are with you and his family. X

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  2. Very sad to lose such a brave man, and to lose such a close friend. xxx

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  3. RIP and fly free fellow crewman

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