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RAF heroine in line for woman of year award; NOMINATION FOR IRAQ VETERAN.

Byline: OWEN HUGHES

A WING commander at RAF Valley who helped coordinate flight operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has been nominated as Woman of the Year.

Wing Commander Sophy Gardner, 39, who was awarded an MBE for her contributions to operations in Afghanistan, has been put forward for the Women of the Year 2009 awards.

Wing Cdr Gardner was in charge of RAF air transport on 9/11 and then coordinated the setting up of airfields in Afghanistan for British troops.

She followed this role as aide to the Air Chief Marshall Brian Burridge in Iraq and helped to coordinate the targeting of sites for attack as the invasion was launched in 2003.

She said: "Iraq was the greatest challenge. When you have to ensure the safety of your people and help carefully coordinate attacks to ensure you get the right target, it focuses your mind.

"I went wherever the air chief went so it was very exciting and very busy, we were doing 22 hour days at times. The job took me to some interesting places and we were in the first group to enter the British embassy in Baghdad since 1990."

Wing Cdr Gardner is the first woman to hold the position of Operations Commander, Operations Wing, at the Anglesey air base.

Demelda Penkitty of Gwynedd has also been nominated for her charity work at Home-A-Dog Rescue in Llanbedr, near Barmouth.

owen.hughes@dailypost.co.uk

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RAF Valley's Wing Commander Sophy Gardner
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 1, 2009
Words:246
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