Saturday, October 27, 2007

A definition of bravery

I was fortunate to be at a dinner this week with John Nichol, the British RAF pilot shot down during the Gulf War conflict. We all remember the television pictures of him and his navigator during their 47 day ordeal of torture at the hands of their Iraqi captors.

The details of their treatment - seven weeks of sheer hell, sensory deprivation, torture and constant bombing by the allied forces - John has an interesting viewpoint.

"I'm not brave. Bravery is about choices. The Iraqis took away all my choices - between life or death, freedom or captivity - and all I could do was to survive. What kept me going was the thought of my two-year old son (now 19 - where has seventeen years gone?) Being brought up by another man.

Brave? No. But all the other pilots and air crew back at base, who knew what was happening to us, who saw the pictures daily on television. Knowing what could happen to them, and yet still getting in their aircraft and flying into Iraqi territory - now that's bravery."

It was a fascinating viewpoint, and a privilege to spend an evening in his company.

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