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Op Herrick

  • Sqn Ldr Catherine Lawson
  • Interview by: Jess Boydon


My time with Op Herrick was spent

as the detachment engineering officer on C-130s.

So I was essentially out there with

a small team of technicians, a very small team actually,

supporting a number of aircraft.

And it was challenging conditions,

obviously sand with the engines.

When you're joining fine particle sand

and heating it up to crazy temperatures,

it causes some specific problems in maintaining the engines.

So we had a constant battle in terms of keeping them clean

so that the engines wouldn't overheat

and the aircraft could perform its job.

We were also able to prepare the aircraft

to do numerous airdrops, so they would drop

water and supplies out to our troops

and the American troops out on the ground,

but I was really focused at Kandahar base

and my focus was purely on the aircraft

and the people under my command

to make sure that they were safe,

to make sure that they were content,

as much as you could be in that environment,

so that we could get the best out of the airplanes.

For me, as an ex-engineering technician,

up to that point having never touched

an airplane since I commissioned,

it was also the perfect opportunity for me to get involved.

Because we were such a small engineering detachment

that we didn't have lots of people to do individual tasks,

so it meant I could literally roll my sleeves up

and get involved again, and that was everything

from engine changes, which we had to do numerous times

in theater, right through to doing raw changes.

So Hercules has got a cargo handling system on the back

that allows you to put palettes on

and if you're in the airborne delivery role,

to push those palettes out onto parachute.

So we were constantly changing the floor layout

on those airplanes, and again,

I was able to get involved with that.

To help my technicians essentially to get the job done.

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