HERO of the MONTH

Lieutenant Commander William Christopher O’Brien DFM

William O’Brien as a sergeant after receiving his unique DFM
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF THE LORD ASHCROFT MEDAL COLLECTION UNLESS NOTED OTHERWISE

William ‘Uncle Bill’ O’Brien, whose lengthy military career spanned 38 remarkable years, is the only Royal Marine ever to have been awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. No other Marine will in future receive the decoration because it is no longer awarded.

Furthermore, O’Brien has the distinction of being awarded the only DFM of the 1982 Falklands Conflict. He enjoyed a long and varied military career that included, as well as his Falklands exploits, serving on the streets of Belfast, in the mountains of northern Iraq and in Afghanistan. During a tour in the latter from 2009 to 2010, O’Brien became both the only reservist pilot to fly frontline combat missions and the oldest Apache pilot to fly on operations, celebrating his 55th birthday in Helmand – hence his affectionate nickname of ‘Uncle Bill’.

William Christopher O’Brien was born in Romford, Essex, on November 16, 1954. He was the son of two Irish car factory workers living in Coventry, where he attended Caludon Castle School, Wyken. He left school at 16 and, after a brief period working in the same factory as his parents, enlisted in the Royal Marines in 1972, aged 17.

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