Obituaries

 

With special thanks to The Rt. Hon. David Cameron, former Prime  Minister, and thanks to the Times and the Telegraph.

 

 

Hand-written letter from David Cameron.

THE OFFICE OF DAVID CAMERON
Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

21st December 2018

Dear Ashton & family

I wanted to write and express my personal condolences following the tragic news about the death of Kris.

I know that there is nothing anyone can say at this time that will lessen the sense of gloom and loss, but you must know that Kris’ many friends and former comrades in arms will be thinking of you and willing you on.

Kris was clearly a remarkable man and an incredibly brave airman.  The whole country owes him a debt of gratitude for his service and sacrifice.  Reading about what he did in Afghanistan was genuinely humbling.  We are so fortunate in our country to have men and women of Kris’s calibre to protect us and serve on our behalf.

I know that the decision to discontinue the Harriers and have a gap in our Aircraft Carrier capability hit Kris hard – and I am sorry that this was the case.  As Prime Minister, I had to take a lot of very difficult decisions – and this one was one that I found more difficult than almost any other.  As a teenager I felt huge pride in hearing the news of what the Harriers and Carriers were achieving in the South Atlantic in 1982 – and I hated having to preside over a gap in this capability.  I well remember the question Kris asked me in 2010 when I made the announcement.  As you know the reasoning was that with Tornadoes & Typhoons & Joint Strike Fighters to come, we needed to rationalise and this was the right way to do it.  There were arguments on both sides but suffice it to say I will be relaxed when the JSF arrive and fly off the decks of our new carriers.  It will require more people of Kris’s talent and commitment to take this work forwards.

While I know your family will be devastated by Kris’ passing, I hope that, over time, you will be able to draw some comfort from all that he achieved, all that he stood for, and all that he meant to you. Having lost a son – albeit in totally different circumstances – I know that it is true that you never fully recover from the loss, but it is also true that, after many months, the happy memories of your time together come flooding back in and some of the clouds part.  I hope that this is the same for you.

This comes with my heartfelt condolences for your loss.

Yours sincerely
David Cameron

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Kristian and “Sharkey” Ward

 In 2001 after becoming the first father and son in the navy’s history to qualify on the same aircraft

Kris 

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A bearded Kristian

 in the cockpit over Afghanistan

Sharkey’s Reply.
Reference: Your letter to Ashton Ward dated 21 December 2018.

Dear Mr. Cameron,
The Passing of my son, Kris Ward.

Your most compassionate and moving letter to my other super hero, Ashton, about the loss of my son, Kris, has been welcomed with the most sincere gratitude and appreciation by my entire family.

Someone said, “Until you walk in someone’s shoes you have no idea what they are being challenged by.” The sad loss of your own son makes it clear that you do understand; through which your condolences become even more meaningful.

As you so wisely say, happy memories of our time together are flooding back and some of the clouds are parting.

We intend to enhance this process by celebrating Kris’s life at a Memorial event to be held at Royal Naval Air Station, Yeovilton on 12 April 2019. Kris would be most honoured if you wish to attend/make an appearance and meet the family.

With immense respect and wishing you and yours a wonderful New Year.

The Times

Kristian Ward obituary

Harrier pilot who followed a famous father, and flew 160 missions over Afghanistan
December 28, 2018, 5:00pm, The Times

During his four deployments as a Harrier pilot over Afghanistan Kris Ward flew 160 armed reconnaissance missions in support of coalition ground troops. Towards the end of one mission in 2007, when he was running short of fuel, he was called to the aid of a team of US special forces pinned down by more than 70 Taliban fighters. They had already suffered one very serious casualty and their radio operator’s thumb had been shot off.

Without any ammunition left Ward called in another Harrier and kept the Taliban at bay by flying at an extremely low level. This brave if dangerous tactic interrupted the assault and gave the second Harrier time to deliver a 1,000lb airburst bomb on target. The surviving Taliban fighters dispersed.

A few days later two bearded special forces soldiers entered the Harrier operations room. They had travelled a considerable distance to get there. At 6ft 4in, Ward was tall, but one of these soldiers was 6ft 8in. The American picked up the British pilot in a bear hug and said: “Man, you saved my life!”

Kristian Nigel Ward was born in Oslo, Norway, in 1973, the elder son of Alison (née Taylor), who was in the Women’s Royal Naval Service, and Commander Nigel “Sharkey” MacCartan-Ward, a Fleet Air Arm fighter pilot who would go on to win the DSC during the Falklands conflict, when he commanded 801 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), a force of Sea Harriers based on HMS Invincible. Kris’s father flew more than 60 missions, achieved three air-to-air kills using cannon fire and Sidewinder missiles, and was considered the leading British night pilot of the conflict.
Kris was eight years old at the time, and his father’s gallantry made a big impression on him.

He recalled vividly the morning of April 1, 1982, when, during a visit to his grandparents’ house, a telephone call came through for his father, telling him simply: “This is the duty commander. You are to prepare your squadron for war.”

“At that moment,” his brother, Ashton, who now runs an executive search company, recalled, “Kris became a man, far too young. He took on the responsibility of taking care of me and looking after mum as best he could.”
Until then Kris had, in addition to good hand-eye co-ordination on the sports field, a strong will, which led to a few confrontations. His fondness for mischief even resulted in some parents banning him from playing with their children. He was educated at Hazlegrove preparatory school, where he broke a chair over the head of one child who had been taunting him about his father not coming back from war. From then on Kris had an immovable desire to be a Harrier pilot in the Royal Navy.
At his next school, King’s Bruton, he played a lot of rugby and joined the RAF branch of the Combined Cadet Force. He would do headstands to stunt his growth because he was worried about being too tall to fly a Harrier. His rebellious streak continued and, before he had a licence, he went for a “joy ride” in his mother’s car, only to be caught and taken to Weymouth police station. Fortunately for his future naval career he was not prosecuted.
He read oceanography and mathematics at the University of Southampton and, after graduating, joined the Royal Air Force. While waiting for his basic flying training he spent time with 899 NAS at Yeovilton where he flew 50 hours in the two-seat Harrier. At this point his entire RAF course were switched to helicopter training. Support from 899 aviators enabled him to transfer to the navy, and he later completed operational flying training on the Sea Harrier. He only just fitted into the cockpit, but luckily, he had just enough clearance room to use an ejector seat.

 

Kris Lucy Jamie on the beach

 

 

 

 

Kris and his two children

Jamie and Lucy

Kris Jet2 pilot

Kris outside a Jet2 airplane

where he worked as a senior captain and Newcastle pilot base manager.

He met Sarah Carlisle, a nurse, at his Royal Navy passing-out ball at Linton-on-Ouse. They married in 2000 and had two children: Jamie, who works for Swissport at Newcastle airport; and Lucy, who is at school and wants to be a fighter pilot.

When Ward qualified in 2001, he and his father made headlines. “Sharkey” Ward came out of retirement briefly to fly with his son. They flew over the Bristol Channel in a two-seater Harrier, at which point Ward offered his father the controls.

After the Sea Harrier’s withdrawal from service, Ward operated the Harrier GR7 and GR9 as a weapons instructor and was a squadron executive officer of 800 NAS within Joint Force Harrier; two roles that only the finest aviators can fill. As a fighter pilot who had — with his colleagues — put his life on the line, he was disappointed by the outcome of the 2010 defence review, which withdrew all Harriers from service.

Such was the strength of his feeling on the subject that he challenged David Cameron, the prime minister at the time, live on national television. “I have flown 160-odd missions over Afghanistan in the Harrier,” he concluded, “and I am now facing redundancy. How am I supposed to feel about that, sir?” Cameron thanked him for his service to his country but said the decision to retire the Harrier was “right” at a time of “difficult decisions”.

On the way out of the building he [Cameron] said to Ward privately as he was walking past him: “I hear you.”

Although two new carriers were in production, they would not come in time for Ward and his peers, and the scrapping of the Harriers ultimately led to him leaving the navy in 2012. He became a senior captain and the Newcastle pilot base manager for the Jet2 airline, flying the Boeing 737. Here, he felt, company management “displayed loyalty downwards” and he felt rewarded and fulfilled.

It later emerged that his demanding service in Afghanistan had resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder. However, that was not the reason for his somewhat un-PC nickname, Kris “Mental” Ward. Nor was he named this for the calculated risks he would take, such as flying at more than 500 knots at low level at night over Afghan mountain ranges. Initially he was named “Budget”, because he always looked after the bar kitty, but his colleagues felt this was too generous. With the name Sharkey already taken, he became “Mental” Ward.

In any event, leadership, heroism and compassion were hallmarks of his life, which was always run in the fast lane.

Asked what sort of a pilot his late son was, Sharkey Ward gave as objective an illustration as a father could, in the circumstances: “Strafing ground targets successfully with gunfire from a high-speed jet in a dive requires complete control of the aircraft and supreme skill,” he said.

“For safety reasons, the closest the aircraft gets to the 15ft by 15ft canvas target before pulling up is 700 yards. Most pilots, including yours truly, achieve a best score of about 25 per cent hits on the target flag. During advanced flying training on the Hawk, students had four strafing sorties. On each of the first three, Kris scored more than 75 per cent then 45 per cent on the final trip — completely unheard of in modern times.”

Lieutenant-Commander Kristian Ward, pilot, was born on October 1, 1973. He died suddenly on November 15, 2018, aged 45

Kristian Ward Obituary: The Times

 

 

The Telegraph

Kristian Ward obituary

Lt-Cdr Kristian Ward, naval Harrier pilot who saved the lives of US soldiers pinned down by the Taliban – obituary
Monday, 31 December 2018

 

Lieutenant-Commander Kristian Ward, who has died suddenly aged 45, was said to be in his natural element with a jump-jet “strapped to his back” and challenged David Cameron over his decision to scrap the Harrier force.

On the evening of December 2, 2007, towards the end of a sortie over Afghanistan in a ground attack Harrier of 800 Naval Air Squadron, Ward was called in to support a team of US Army rangers pinned down by more than 70 Taliban fighters.

The rangers had suffered one serious casualty and their radio operator had been wounded. Though low on fuel Ward, at great risk to himself, descended to low level and, with no weapons left, made several noisy low-level passes while he called up another Harrier. This interrupted the Taliban assault and allowed the second Harrier time to deliver a 1000lb air-burst bomb right on target.

Some days later, two huge US rangers entered the Harrier operations room at Camp Bastion, having travelled a considerable distance to get there.

One picked up Ward in a bear hug and told him: “You saved our lives, Dude!”

Kristian Nigel Ward was born in Oslo where his father, Commander “Sharkey” Ward, who would become a fighter ace in the 1982 Falklands War, was serving. Kristian was educated at King’s School, Bruton, before reading Oceanography and Mathematics at Southampton University.

In 1995 he joined the RAF, believing his father’s advice that he would have a greater chance of becoming a fighter pilot there than in the Royal Navy. However, after basic flying training there was a lengthy wait for advanced flying training with the RAF, and, impatient to progress, he marked time in 899 Naval Air Squadron where he clocked up 50 hours in the two-seater Harrier trainer. As a result, when the RAF arbitrarily restreamed Ward’s entire intake to helicopter flying, he transferred to the Royal Navy.

After formal fixed-wing flying training in the Tucano and the Hawk, and operational flying training in the Sea Harrier, he joined 801 NAS, which his father had commanded in the Falklands War, flying the Harrier FA2 fighter, in 2001.

He rapidly advanced, retraining on the Harrier GR7 ground-attack variant, qualifying as a weapons instructor in 2005, teaching other Harrier pilots (2005-07), becoming senior pilot of Navy Strike Wing 2009-10, and deploying four times with the Royal Navy to Afghanistan.

Ward and his Fleet Air Arm colleagues were shattered by the outcome of the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010 when, apparently as a result of interservice rivalry, the aircraft carrier Ark Royal and the Harriers were withdrawn from service and the RAF’s less capable Tornadoes were retained.

Seizing the opportunity when Prime Minister David Cameron visited the Permanent Joint Forces Headquarters at Northwood, Ward asked: “I am a Harrier pilot and I have flown 160 missions in Afghanistan, and I am now potentially facing unemployment. How am I supposed to feel about that, please, sir?” Cameron’s response was ill-informed, and the decision led to Ward leaving the Navy in 2012.

Ward quickly became a senior captain and Newcastle pilot base manager in the low-cost scheduled airline, Jet2, and flew Boeing 737s from 2012.

Ward consistently radiated a sunny disposition which, along with an irrepressible sense of fun and mischief allied to a deep sense of duty, made him an inspirational figure.

One of his flying instructors said that Ward was “born to fly and was truly in his natural element with a Harrier jet strapped to his back. He wasn’t just a ‘chip off the old block’ but earned the utmost respect of his peers in his own right.”
In 2000 Ward married Sarah Carlisle. She survives him with their son and daughter.

Lt-Cdr Kristian Ward, born October 1, 1973, died November 15, 2018

 

Published Comments:
There were 3 Americans who left comments.

 

David Lawton who said, “You saved our lives, dude.”  Says it all. Very brave man. RIP!

 

Jane Peterson who said, “On behalf of my American family, I want to give my eternal thanks to Lt Commander Ward’s family for his brave selfless action that saved many American boys’ lives. Your husband, son was a true hero…”

 

Seconded by Nicole Dufour who said, “You are a hero for the US and the UK “

 

And from Round up The Treasonous Remainers. (Who is this Jet2 pilot?)

“He and I had a “Who can eat the most really hot wasabi nuts competition, whilst trying to negotiate a short cut over the North Sea with Dutch Air Traffic Control”. Both of us were crap and spent half an hour rubbing tears from our eyes.”

 

Kris Sarah

Kris and Sarah

together in…

 

 

Eulogy