Matthew Caulwell was one of three members of B Flight, No1 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment who were tasked on Thursday, 19 July 2007 with protecting aircraft operating from Basrah Airport. Their job was to ensure that the ground over which the aircraft fly was clear from the threat of militia who try to target the aircraft whilst they are at their most vulnerable, during take-off and landing.
During the early afternoon there were no aircraft movements and Matthew, together with Christopher Dunsmore and Peter McFerran, was resting, prior to going out to patrol again. The COB came under rocket attack and tragically all three were killed instantly by the attack.
Officer Commanding No 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, Squadron Leader Jason Sutton, said:
"The Squadron has been a close knit family throughout its 85-year history, and our ethos of mutual trust and dependence is never more important than when we are engaged on challenging operations such as now in Iraq. The loss of Senior Aircraftsman Caulwell, Senior Aircraftsman Dunsmore and Senior Aircraftsman McFerran has been felt very deeply by all the on the Squadron and by other members of 903 Expeditionary Air Wing.
"SAC Matthew Caulwell was 22 years old, from Birmingham and had served on 1 Squadron since 2002. Better known to the Squadron as ‘Lip’, he was a true character known for his outgoing, gregarious nature. Though he was able to find humour in even the most difficult situation, he was also a true professional and his skills as a leader had been recognized by his promotion to Acting Corporal.
"He rose to this new challenge magnificently and the bearing and deportment of a junior non-commissioned officer came very naturally to him: his lads held him in the utmost respect and instinctively followed his example. Throughout all, his trademark good humour would keep up the spirits of his many friends, one of whom, SAC Greenwood said about him 'Lip was morale, when morale did not exist'. Loyal and unfailingly dependable, Matthew had a very bright future in the Corps and he will be sorely missed by us all.