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Engineer Harry sets an example to his Commando Helicopter Force comrades

28 February 2023
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The outstanding efforts of Commando Helicopter Force engineer Harry McMillan at work, at home and in the sporting arena have seen him singled out.

The leading air engineering technician received the Live Your Life Award from the Fleet Air Arm for his dedication to his job, his community and his sport.

The awards are presented each ‘term’ by naval aviation charity Navy Wings and hospitality/ entertainment chain Beds and Bars to the junior rating whose contribution to the RN and beyond has stood out.

The 30-year-old from Plymouth, who serves at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset, has been a helicopter engineer for over a decade and is currently responsible for overseeing maintenance of Merlin Mk4 helicopters which carry Royal Marines into action the world over.

As a mechanical supervisor, he leads small teams of engineers responsible for looking after the high-tech aircraft in all environments to the highest professional standards, to ensure the Merlins are available for operations.

In doing so, he inspires both peers and subordinates not least thanks to coming up with innovative problem-solving methods, setting an example to all fellow Fleet Air Arm engineers in the process.

Away from engineering Harry is a passionate athlete. He came first in his weight category in the Navy’s 2022 Powerlifting Championships, runs with HMS Heron’s Field Gun team (helping them to second place in last year’s competition) and joined a Forces’ mountaineering expedition to Pakistan.

There he stepped to the fore, playing a leading role – setting aside fatigue and illness – when two colleagues were injured by a rockfall crossing the Gondogora La at an altitude of 5,600 metres. 

He made use of nothing more than tarpaulin to improvise a stretcher in an extremely remote and dangerous location, helping the injured to safety. 

And when not fixing Merlins or engaged in sport, he somehow finds time to organise a community project in his home village in Devon. Walky-Talkies was set up to get people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds out of the house and chatting with fellow villagers – improving both their fitness and their mental wellbeing. 

“I’m taken away and over the moon with the recognition of what has been a tough – but great – year for me,” said Harry. “Without the opportunity given by others I wouldn't be where I am and for that I thank my family, friends and work colleagues.”

In the words of his citation, Harry displays “the utmost dedication to his work and has consistently pushed himself and his team above and beyond.

“He represents the highest standards and ethos of the Royal Navy: selflessness, courage, exceptional leadership, and humility.”

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