b. 22/04/1979 Edinburgh, Scotland. d. 06/09/2006 Helmand, Afghanistan.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 06/09/2006 Helmand, Afghanistan.
Mark William Wright GC was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 22nd April 1979, the son of Robert Wright, a painter and decorator, and his wife Jemima nee Reid. Mark attended Prestonfield Primary School and later St Serf’s at Westercoats in Edinburgh but he was keen to leave and left just before his 16th birthday. After a short time working with his father, he became determined to join the Parachute Regiment.
On 11th January 1999 he completed the Combat Infantryman’s Course and Pre-Parachute Selection and then passed the Basic Parachute Course at RAF Brize Norton. Mark passed out and became part of 3 Para Mortar Platoon on 10th October 1999. He was then in a relationship with Gill Urquhart, and they were due to marry eight weeks after Mark’s death.
Mark completed three tours of Northern Ireland, conducting security operations in Dungannon and Belfast, two tours of Iraq where he served with distinction. He returned to the UK and was promoted to Corporal, before a deployment to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in May 2006 as part of Operation Herrick IV.
On 6th September 2006, Lance Corporal Stuart Hale was leading a sniper patrol to engage Taliban fighters when he stepped on a mine, which blew off his leg. Seeing the incident from the top of the ridge, Wright gathered a number of men and rushed down the slope to help. He made a decision to enter the minefield, knowing he could set off a mine. He then reached Hale, and ordered two orderlies to take over his treatment. He ordered any inessential personnel away from the minefield. Realising that Hale was likely to bleed to death if they attempted to move him back up the steep slope, he called for a helicopter and ordered a route to be cleared through the minefield to a possible landing site. Corporal Stuart Pearson undertook this task, but, when moving back across the route he thought he cleared, he stepped on a mine, blowing his left leg off. Wright immediately moved to Pearson and began giving medical aid until a medic could take over. Shortly afterwards an RAF Chinook CH47 helicopter landed. As Wright stood up to make his way to it, he detonated a mine, sustaining serious injuries to his left shoulder, chest and face. The mine also caused a chest injury to one of the medics. The remaining medic tried to help Wright, but was wounded himself by another blast. There were now 7 casualties in the battlefield, three of whom had lost limbs. There was a big risk of them bleeding to death. Hope of rescue receded when the Chinook had to abort. Despite his injuries, Wright continued to control the situation. They were eventually rescued by an American helicopter. Sadly, Wright died of his injuries on the flight. Corporal Paul “Tug” Hartley, one of the medics, was awarded the George Medal.
Wright was cremated at Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh, and his life story and the events of the 6th September 2006 have recently featured in the movie “Kajaki”. His medals are on loan to the National War Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh Castle from his parents.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: MORTONHALL CREMATORIUM, EDINBURGH.
National Memorial Arboretum
Picture supplied by Alastair Kennedy-Rose
Wright's investiture with his father Bobby holding his GC
Edinburgh Castle - Thomas Stewart