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The Mighty Boosh
8,425 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Band of brothers, and father

Major Danny Mackness has come under fire in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, and survived a bomb blast in Northern Ireland - but in the last five months he has endured the most harrowing time of his 26-year army career, he says.

Stationed in Celle, Germany, with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment, Maj Mackness has not been in danger. Instead he is facing what he has found to be a far greater trauma - having a loved one in a combat zone.

For the past five months the major's 21-year-old son, Royal Military Policeman Lance Corporal Shane Mackness, has been stationed in Basra.

Mentoring role: 2nd Lt Adam Mackness

And before long he and all three of his sons will be serving in the southern Iraqi city.

The scheduled deployment this month is thought to constitute the largest family group in one battle zone since World War II.

"This five months that Shane has been away has been harder for me than any tour I have been on - knowing that my son is in harm's way," he says.

"We have been talking to him on the phone and all of a sudden he comes under rocket attack," says Maj Mackness.

Maj Mackness admits he feels pleasure and pride that all three of his sons followed him into the Army.

First tours

"I am proud of the fact that they have stepped up to the mark, decided to serve their country," says the 45 year old.

"I am proud they have got the guts to do it, when others stand in the background.

"I just don't want them to stand too far forward," he admits.

Wendy Mackness, the major's wife and his childhood sweetheart, says during 24 years of marriage she has grown accustomed to his spells away from home, and the dangers of his line of work.

"Hopefully Danny can keep his eye on them"
Wendy Mackness
But it is the first tours of duty for Shane, 24-year-old 2nd Lieutenant Adam and Sapper Mark, 22.

"Hopefully Danny can keep his eye on them," 47-year-old Mrs Mackness suggests. "They are going to be more or less in the same place."

She adds: "It's what they joined the Army for, and they are all looking forward to going.

"I am very proud of them."

Mrs Mackness says she will avoid watching the news while the men are away, and will hope for occasional phone calls and updates every couple of days by email.

"I now realise the things she goes through when I am away," says Maj Mackness.

"I have seen now at first-hand the pain and stress that she has been under."

But the major, who is originally from Leicester, has great praise for the Army's support system for relatives.

"They really do pull out all the stops to support the families at times like this," he says.

Basra policing: L/Cpl Shane Mackness. Video courtesy of MoD.

Mrs Mackness adds that, as one of the "older and bolder" wives, she will be able to help younger women cope during their partners' first tours.

"I think it just brings everybody closer together, all of the girls are in the same boat," she says.

Maj Mackness adds: "They don't feel so alone facing up to this."

Current UK forces engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq could be the most dangerous he has seen in nearly three decades in the service, the major believes.

The UK military's death toll in Iraq since the 2003 invasion is nearing 200.

Fatherly advice

Maj Mackness got a hint of what he and his sons can expect in the months ahead during a reconnaissance mission to Basra in January.

He experienced seven rocket attacks during the three-day visit, one of which occurred while he was catching up with his youngest son, Shane.

"We dived for cover under my bed," says Maj Mackness.

"It was quite a strange experience taking cover with my son."

"In the heat of the moment they are not going to listen to grisly, old dad"
Major Danny Mackness
The seasoned soldier has complete confidence in the training his sons have received in preparation for their deployments, so is offering straightforward fatherly advice along the lines of: 'Don't play the hero and don't go looking for trouble.'

But he admits: "They are young men - they are going to do whatever they feel in the moment.

"In the heat of the moment they are not going to listen to grisly, old dad."

The family is due to be reunited in time for Christmas.

Maj Mackness and his wife have already planned a two-week holiday in Egypt for his leave in the new year.

Between now and then, while waiting for the Mackness men's return, she just has to save up and pay for it, she says.

BBC News Online

Enjoying the View
1,136 Posts
Best of luck to all of them, especially the mother!

wave man TDY staff
41,776 Posts
I worked with a good guy, whose family had much of the same situation, tho some years back. Brave souls all, here's to their safe return.
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