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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 16:00 GMT
Helicopter rescue bid for Marine
Lance Corporal Mathew Ford
L/Cpl Mathew Ford was killed in action on Monday
The Royal Marine killed in action in Afghanistan on Monday was the subject of a dramatic rescue attempt by his colleagues, the MoD has revealed.

L/Cpl Mathew Ford, of 45 Commando Royal Marines, died during an attack on a Taleban fort in the Helmand province.

When his colleagues regrouped and found he was missing, they flew back.

Four strapped themselves to two Apache helicopters which landed inside and outside the fort's wall. But they discovered he was already dead.

UK Task Force spokesman, Lt Col Rory Bruce, said the heroic mission was a "leap into the unknown".

Apache attack helicopter
Design: Based on US AH-64D Apache
Built: In US and UK by Westland
Weapons: 30mm automatic cannon, 70mm aerial rockets, Hellfire missiles
Crew: Pilot and co-pilot/gunner
Range: 170km/106 miles
Engines: Rolls Royce RTM 322 Mk 120
Length: 14.5m

"This is believed to be the first time UK forces have ever tried this type of rescue mission," he said.

"It was an extraordinary tale of heroism and bravery of our airmen, soldiers and marines who were all prepared to put themselves back into the line of fire to rescue a fallen comrade.

"And it was with great sadness they later found their brother-in-arms had been killed in action."

L/Cpl Ford was part of a 200-strong force, who attacked the major Taleban fort to the south of Garmsir in the southern province.

The MoD said the Apache helicopter can only carry a pilot and a gunner but there are attachments on the wings for personnel to harness themselves to in emergencies.

The fort had been a surveillance target for more than two months.

A third Apache helicopter and other units provided covering fire, as the rescue bid got under way, the MoD said.

The helicopters landed in the fort and located L/Cpl Ford's body, which they then strapped to the Apache.

Afghanistan map

L/Cpl Ford, who was the eldest of three brothers, was brought up in Immingham, North East Lincolnshire - where his mother and stepfather still reside.

He shared a flat in Dundee with his fiancée, Ina.

His mother, Joan, said: "We are all devastated by the news of Mathew's death.

"He was a larger-than-life character who lived his life to the full.

"He was a wonderful son to me and brother to Thomas and Scott and was looking forward to his future with Ina."

L/Cpl Ford's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Dewar RM, said the serviceman's "professionalism, reliability, and selflessness as well as his sharp wit marked him out from the crowd".

Footage of the dramatic rescue attempt

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