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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 January 2007, 18:51 GMT
Film of marines' daring mission
Apache attack helicopter
Four marines were involved in the rescue mission

Footage has been released of a daring rescue mission in which four Royal Marines tried to save a comrade in southern Afghanistan.

The men strapped themselves to an Apache helicopter's wings to find Lance Corporal Matthew Ford who went missing in an attack on a Taleban stronghold.

L/Cpl Ford, of 45 Commando Royal Marines, had died but the men retrieved his body during last week's incident.

A UK Task Force spokesman called the mission a "leap into the unknown".

And Geoffrey Perry, the father of Chris Fraser-Perry, one of the marines involved in the rescue, said he was very proud of his son.

'Volunteers' sought

"From what I can gather, obviously they got back to the base and realised that one of the lads was missing and then they were looking for volunteers to go back," he said.

"Obviously everybody volunteered and he for some reason got chosen to go. He was strapped to the side of the helicopter. Obviously had his gun with him, he carries it at all times, and they went back in."

He believed his son was one of two marines who landed and found L/Cpl Ford's body and took it back to the helicopter.

I just can't believe it
Geoffrey Perry
Father of marine in mission

"From what I can gather it was quite a drag; it was about 80 metres or so," he said.

" It was quite an effort for them to actually get there and do what he'd done. I'm just so proud of him really. I just can't believe it."

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

Apache takes off with marines strapped to its sides
MoD picture of the Apache helicopter taking off

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.

UK Task Force spokesman Lt Col Rory Bruce said: "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, who was the eldest of three brothers, was brought up in Immingham, North East Lincolnshire.

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