Capt Lisa Head

The day was glorious. The spring sunshine which is often a rare treat brought smiles to each face. Shirt sleeves, sandals & sunhats indicated that the British were on holiday.

A news item came from Torquay which had spent a wonderful day bathed in sunshine. Businesses were happy with the early arrival of summer although there were grumbles about the extended bank holiday not being matched with some school holidays thereby losing the opportunity of more business.

Suddenly, the mood changed. The Ministry of Defence announced the death of Capt Lisa  Head from her injuries in Afghanistan. Sadly, she was number 364 of those lost in the conflict but the news had a greater effect on me than my normal sadness for the friends & family of the soldier. It wasn’t that she was only the second woman officer to be killed. The reason for this reaction seems to have been because Lisa was a member of 11 Explosive Ordinance Disposal Regiment, the Royal Logistic Corps and was fatally injured dismantling an IED. In simple language she was a bomb disposal officer.

An IED (Improvised Explosive Device) is known to be a favoured weapon of the insurgents in Afghanistan & too many British soldier deaths have been caused through them. I have always been in awe of those men who have done the job of making explosive devices safe both in war & in peace. For those on the battlefield, it is referred to as ‘taking the long, lonely walk’. One of Lisa’s colleagues described how she would have been regulating her breathing, thinking about the possibilities of a secondary device as she approached the IED. From the reports, one had already gone off knocking her off her feet but it was her job so she got up & continued to the second one which exploded & sadly caused her injuries which she died from in Birmingham yesterday.

Lisa volunteered & qualified in ‘High Threat Status’ which meant she was trained for one of the most dangerous of front line jobs. There is a one-in-8 chance of bomb disposal officers to be killed & yet she was passionate about her job & was back in Afghanistan on a second tour of duty.

I had no idea that women did that job. Why should I be surprised? Suddenly, I was questioning my own reactions. I had always felt that I was an ‘equality for all, no glass ceiling & all the other phrases that come along when comparing the genders & the work they do’ type of person. Yesterday’s news proved that is not the case. I do hope Lisa’s name will find a special place somewhere.

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