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Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Task force youngster 'ready' for battle
Jodie Jones
Jodie in on board HMS Illustrious heading for Oman
One of the youngest sailors with the Royal Navy task force assembling for action in the Middle East has spoken of her fears of an impending battle but refuses to leave her ship.

At just 17, Jodie Jones could be flown home from the HMS Illustrious as the Navy does not like to send under-18s into combat.

We are on Red Alert to help the Americans. We're fine, just more vulnerable. Let mum know I'm fine

Jodie Jones's postcard home

Her ship, which originally left Portsmouth on 3 September for training exercises in the Gulf, is now on Red Alert for battle against Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist forces.

Ms Jones sent a postcard to her grandmother Brenda Glasspool in Hampshire, confessing that she was "scared" but ready for action.

Part of the message read: "Just to let you know, if you have seen the news, we are on Red Alert to help the Americans. We're fine, just more vulnerable.

"Let mum know I'm fine (very scared tho!). It's all a bit overwhelming really".

Mrs Glasspool told BBC Breakfast on Wednesday: "She left thinking she was just going on an exercise along with several thousand others."

'Gutsy' teenager

The grandmother, from Havant, said that the family were naturally very worried about her but "knew full well that the Royal Navy would look after their staff out there".

Jodie joined HMS Illustrious in July after completing her Royal Navy training to become a communications rating.
Brenda Glasspool
Brenda Glasspool is proud of her granddaughter

The ship, loaded with 1,000 sailors and 15 Harrier jets, is currently leading a task force of 27 ships due to arrive in Oman by the weekend.

Jodie's family describe her as a "gutsy and determined" young girl who would certainly not wish to leave her colleagues or her ship at such a time.

Mrs Glasspool added the family had not received any official word but understood that Jodie may be taken off the ship if combat is imminent, because of her age.

They said it had been her "dream" to join the Navy and the teenager was thrilled when she was assigned to HMS Illustrious.

She even visited it along with members of the public when it was moored in Portsmouth for the recent Festival of the Sea and queued for hours to show her family round it.

The postcard sent from Jodie Jones
Jodie's postcard sent from Malta

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