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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 September, 2004, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
RAF man reunited with rescue boy
RAF Rescue Winchman, Bob Pountney (centre) holding baby Sam Harcus after he saved his life
Bob Pountney (centre) holding baby Sam after the rescue in 1988
A former RAF winchman received "a pleasant surprise" at his retirement party when he was reunited with the boy whose life he saved 16 years ago.

Bob Pountney, 60, saved Sam Harcus when the child's heart stopped on a flight to a Scottish hospital.

Former colleagues at RAF Kinloss in Moray arranged for the Liverpool-born winchman to meet the teenager at a party to celebrate his 45-year service.

Sam, from Aberdeen, said he owed his life to the winchman.

Mr Pountney, who lives in Forres, Moray, said: "It was a big shock and a big surprise but a very pleasant surprise."

Afterwards I always wondered how the lad was doing, so to see him here today has been great
Bob Pountney
Former RAF winchman
The winchman was called out with the Sea King rescue helicopter on 2 July, 1988 to help transfer baby Sam from Orkney to Aberdeen.

Sam, who was born three months premature, was seriously ill and Mr Pountney was instructed by the doctor on board to massage the baby's heart to keep him alive.

The baby remained in hospital in Aberdeen for five months before being able to go home.

Mr Pountney said: "It was just a case of doing what I had been told to do.

"But afterwards I always wondered how the lad was doing, so to see him here today has been great."

'Tear in the eye'

Sam, who is studying computing and information technology in Aberdeen, said he would consider a career in the RAF.

RAF Rescue Winchman Bob Pountney with Sam Harcus
Sam is thinking about a career in the RAF
"Nerves almost got the better of me on the way up here today but it has been wonderful to finally meet Bob," he said.

"I am thinking about joining the Royal Air Force and perhaps training to become a helicopter pilot."

Squadron Leader Nick Barr, of RAF Kinloss, said: "When Sam arrived today I did detect a little tear in Bob's eye."

During his time in the RAF, Mr Pountney has been involved in numerous operations including the rescue of several badly burned survivors of the Piper Alpha disaster.

He survived three helicopter crashes and rescued 350 people during his time as a winchman.

Mr Pountney, who is married with a grown-up son, has recently been working at the Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordination Centre at RAF Kinloss as an assistant controller.

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