JJ Chalmers Was Flown To Paralympics By Pilot Who Flew Him Out Of Afghanistan
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Invictus Games medallist and former Royal Marine JJ Chalmers has revealed that the pilot who recently flew him to the Paralympic Games in Japan was the same man who flew him home from Afghanistan after being injured.
Chalmers, 34, was hurt in an IED bomb blast in Afghanistan while serving in Helmand Province in 2011, and was transported back to the UK by hospital plane - still unconscious at the time.
He has since forged a career in television presenting, and became one of the BBC's presenters for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this year.
However, while he was flying over to Japan for the role, he 'burst into tears' when he realised that the pilot at the controls was a man called David Ellis, who just so happened to be the man that had flown him out of Afghanistan 10 years ago.
Posting a series of photos on Instagram - including a selfie with Ellis while on board the recent flight - Chalmers wrote: "This is David Ellis, he just flew me out to the Tokyo for the Paralympics.
"But, it's not the first time I've been on one of his flights. Incredibly he flew me home, unconscious on a hospital plane, when I was wounded in Afghanistan. Unreal!
"Thank you, it was an honour to meet you Sir."
He added: "For the record the 4th picture was taken in the hospital in Afghanistan when they prepared me to be flown home 10 years ago... it was obviously not taken on my flight to Japan, like the other, as my recent flight with @British_Airways was extremely pleasant and not just by comparison."
Speaking to 5 Live Breakfast, Chalmers said he was already 'so excited' to be heading over to Tokyo for his dream job of presenting at the Paralympics when a flight attendant came over to him.
He recalled: "She sort of brought me to one side... she said, 'Mr Chalmers, am I right in saying you served in Afghanistan?' And I was like, 'Where is this going? What is going on here?'
"And she said, 'Our pilot actually flew you back from Afghanistan, flew you back into the UK when you were injured 10 years ago, and he's noticed that and he'd like you to come this way, he's going to take the plane off and then he's going to come and have a word with you.'
"And I burst into tears, that was my reaction to that."
Explaining how Ellis had known he was on the flight, Chalmers continued: "They get the passenger manifest three days before and he always takes a bit of a glance down and he said, particularly when you're working on something like this, you know there's going to be athletes and whatnot on board.
"He recognised my name, he Googled it, and he found one of the first articles come up gave the specific date that I was injured, on 27 May 2011.
"So he took out his old RAF flying log, and he looked down it, and did the maths and figured out - yeah, right enough, it was him that had brought me back and so he brought the log along with him.
"It was really nice... we were able to just talk like two veterans and it was really nice to, you know, pass the time talking to someone that sort of had a familiar background to what I did."