A FEW months ago Lance Corporal Louie Muntion was playing as a centre back for Stanley FC.
But now the 20-year-old former Outwood Grange School pupil is part of a crack team of engineers helping to keep the UK Army’s Apache helicopter fleet high in the sky.
L Cpl Munton, of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, is currently stationed at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province.
His role involves looking after the mechanics of the aircraft – including the cannon and missile launchers.
He said: “I’m one of a team of 20 people working to maintain the aircraft.
“There are 12 of us who work on the mechanical side of things. I maintain everything from the gun to the main flying controls.
“Every day, my problem-solving skills are put to the test as issues come to light with the helicopters.”
L Cpl Munton is also part of a ‘crash team’ – the Army Air Corps’ version of the AA or RAC, who fly out to help if a helicopter has to make an emergency landing or crashes.
He said: “I’ve not been called out yet but when I do, will be a tough job. Because of the current threat from the Taliban, it involves quite a lot of work detecting improvised explosive devices around a site where a helicopter has gone down and there is the risk of coming under fire while we work.
“At times, you can be under a lot of pressure because it’s technically difficult and the Apaches need to keep going out on missions. But everything comes back to knowing your engineering principles.”
The Apache helicopters are equipped with two types of ‘Hellfire’ missiles which can be launched on enemy personnel and buildings, and 30mm cannon.
Troops on the ground call in Apaches if they have been pinned down in an enemy ambush.