Today, a hero passed away

On the night of the 16th – 17th of January 1991, under the cover of darkness the first wave of Tornadoes took off from Bahrain International Airport on what was undoubtedly the most dangerous of all the Gulf War missions – the destruction of Iraqi airfields by low-level bombing using JP223 runway denial systems.  That morning as the planes returned to their base the world woke up to the news that Operation Desert Storm had started.  With these Tornadoes suffering the highest loss to mission ratio the missions were pulled after just six days but that night, that first flight into the unknown, was caught on film.  Some two decades later I’d like to share with you that moving and original footage:

Among the crew on that first mission was a young RAF officer by the name of Tony McGlone. Tony lived for flying – There was nothing else he wanted to do and no other dream to follow. From his first days as a cadet flying gliders to his last days training the pilots of tomorrow Tony loved nothing more than to take to the air.

Today, after a long and brave battle with cancer and still an officer in the RAF, Tony McGlone slipped the surly bonds of Earth. He leaves behind two beautiful daughters and a devoted wife – my sister Ruth.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

— John Gillespie Magee, Jr


About Adrian Fowles

Business advisor, finance mentor and cash coach - Turning your pipe dream into a revenue stream -
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6 Responses to Today, a hero passed away

  1. Judith says:

    What a beautiful tribute to someone who left all those he loved and all those that loved him far too soon. Words finely spoken Adrian; With love from your sister Judith

  2. Billy says:

    I knew Magoo well and served with him over many years. He was always larger than life and he will be missed. Thoughts to Ruth and the girls. Billy

  3. kenneth webb says:

    I was saddened to learn this evening of Tony’s passing. I recall Tony’s terrific sense of humour, his accounts of his exploits as a glider pilot with my squadron 2322 (Dowty) Sqn ATC, and then his regular visits to us all, first from Cranwell, and then as an RAF Navigator on Tornadoes.
    Seeing one of the greatest poems recounted here in honour of Tony by his brother in law has touched the heart, for that poem inspired me all those years ago and epitomises the many great chats we had I’m the CO’s office at 2322.
    Ruth, do remember this. Tony is only just behind the veil and stands an inch or so from you and your daughters and with that great beam that lights up the room.
    Stay strong, he’s safe and well again. Ken
    Kenneth T Webb

  4. Andrew Greer says:

    I only recently found out about Tony’s early passing so I apologise for the delay in posting this. I served on XV Squadron with Tony, a huge character, a fine navigator and he and Ruth were always awesome socially. My thoughts go out to Ruth and her daughters. Andrew

  5. Julian Day says:

    I was saddenned to hear of the loss of Tony. I used to be a classmate at secondary school and sat next to him when he first joined Whitefriars in Cheltenham. He was then, and I expect always, a larger than life character. I distinclty remember his love of aircraft and his ability to recognise planes from their silhouettes. His love for flying clearly never waned and I think the poem hear a touching and emotive tribute. It has brought a lump to my throat. God bless you big fella and my best wishes to your family.

    Kindest regards

    Julian Day

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