Enniskillen woman living life on the frontline

Melaine Brooker along with colleagues in Afghanistan in 2009.

Melaine Brooker along with colleagues in Afghanistan in 2009.

FROM Iraq, to Afghanistan, Melanie Brooker has seen much more than your average Fermanagh person.

The Enniskillen-born woman has been a member of the British Army since 2005 – and has spent months in middle-eastern warzones.


Back in 2005, the former Enniskillen High School student joined the army, after she had left the school. She was 17 when she joined, and has been deployed across a variety of locations. Next year, she will return to Afghanistan – the place she described as the most difficult she has been.

Her first deployment came in 2006: Iraq.

“I’d just joined, and was posted to my first unit. I took some leave to be with my family. I was scared – I didn’t know what to expect. When I got there everybody made me feel welcome. I got to know people – and we worked together as a team,” Melanie reflected.

Prior, she had spent 12 weeks in England, where she did basic training, which included arms training.

“It’s basic training – with arms training you start off with the SA80, and when you get to your regiment, if you’re deploying, you do glock training – the GPMG, which is machine gun. At the start it was pretty tough – you had to know the parts of it, how to change the magazine – it is tough.”

Her official role is a driver communications specialist, and she has worked in various roles including within the blue light matrix. In 2009, she was deployed in Afghanistan.

“I would be responsible for bringing in unbelievable traumas, casualties, bringing in the dead – it’s not something you do see everyday.


“And people with missing limbs… it’s breathtaking, but you have to take a deep breath and get on with the job.

“We all reassure each other when we get back to the tent, and comfort each other. Everybody becomes closer when you’re out on tour.”

She described the most harrowing thing that she has seen when on tour.

“The worst thing I’ve seen – I’ve seen a Officer Commanding come in, dead, he’s come back off the back of the chopper, his body bag has split open, everything was everywhere – and we had to pack everything back in and get him away.”

And, Melanie is set to be deployed to Afghanistan again next year, as the troops begin to move out of the country.

“There are still nerves. I haven’t been out in Afghanistan since 2008, and going back out next year will probably be a lot scarier – because I’m going out as CLP (Combat Logistics Patrol). And knowing that you’ve lost friends out there, you’ve brought your injured mates in. I’m not going to lie, I would be scared.”

Just last year, Melanie was awarded a medal from Prime Minister David Cameron for her services during the Olympic games.

“The army were called in, and I volunteered to help the female searches and security for the Olympics – and we were deployed at the start of the games and through to the end.

“The prime minister awarded me with a medallion, we had them sent to the regiment. It was great, no-one was expecting anything.”

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