Belfast Telegraph

Bravery award for oil worker who risked his life to thwart rogue Yemeni soldier on crazed shooting spree

By Chris Kilpatrick

An oil worker who risked his life by overpowering a rogue soldier during a terrifying gun attack has been honoured by the Queen for his bravery.

Anthony Trethowan, from Bangor, Co Down, has been awarded the Queen's Commendation for Bravery for overpowering the gunman who opened fire at a Yemeni airstrip in the Middle East in 2007.

One person was killed during the attack and five others were badly injured.

Mr Trethowan was later praised by one survivor for helping to save his life and those of three others caught up in the ordeal.

The accolade is a UK-wide honour granted for bravery entailing risk to life and meriting national recognition.

"It's a huge honour for somebody to say after all you've been through that you've done right," Mr Trethowan told the Belfast Telegraph.

"It was seven years ago now, but the memories remain."

Mr Trethowan, who was working as a health and safety consultant at the time of the shooting, was on duty at an airstrip in central Yemen managing aircraft and passenger safety.

The airfield was protected by a detachment of Yemeni military forces and he was accompanied by a military escort.

Mr Trethowan was unarmed and was only there to greet an arriving aircraft.

Once it had landed, small groups of people moved forward to greet the passengers and unload their luggage. He was in one of the groups.

As they moved towards the rear door, they came under automatic gunfire.

A few people who had been standing by the front of the plane were seen to fall down.

With no cover available, Mr Trethowan dived for the ground as bursts of gunfire continued.

It became apparent the source of the firing was a rogue Yemeni soldier armed with an AK-47 assault rifle.

The perpetrator ran forward around the front of the plane, shooting at the body of the aircraft and hitting some of those nearby.

As the attacker came around the back of the aircraft, he began firing directly at people, some of whom were already wounded, and then fired in Mr Trethowan's direction again.

When the soldier started moving again, one of the military guards shot at him, hitting him in the left shoulder. After the attacker fell to the ground from the impact of the shot, a security manager ran forward and with Mr Trethowan overpowered the killer.

Mr Trethowan helped disarm the gunman and restrained him until help came and the rogue soldier was handed over to the Yemeni military.

"It was so frustrating," Mr Trethowan (59) said.

"You are absolutely helpless watching this guy run around and you can't do anything about it."

During the attack, Mr Trethowan, who was born in England but has lived in Northern Ireland for the past 14 years, gave life-saving first aid to a another British man who had been badly wounded.

The shooting victim later said he credited Mr Trethowan with helping to save his life and those of three others.

Following the attack, Mr Trethowan also took a leading role in the recovery operation, supervising and directing personnel, managing the medical evacuation and escorting any injured persons to medical facilities.

He will be presented with the award by a representative of the Queen at Hillsborough Castle later this month.

Background

Anthony Trethowan, who has lived in Northern Ireland for the past 14 years, gave immediate life-saving first aid to a British man who had been badly wounded during a gun attack by a rogue Yemeni soldier. The survivor later told how he credited Mr Trethowan with helping to save his life and those of three others. One person died in the attack and five were injured.

Belfast Telegraph

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