Mark Wright was born on the 22nd April 1979. The only son of Bob and Jem. From a very early age Mark wanted to be a soldier, this he achieved in January 1999. Mark went on to do three tours of Northern Ireland.
Deployed to Iraq in May 2003 and then to Afghanistan in May 2006.
Mark was also a very proud and regular attendee of his Mother Lodge, St Clair Edinburgh No 349. He was initiated, passed and raised. He then obtained the rank of mark master. These degrees were conferred when his father was in the chair. Mark made the ultimate sacrifice on the 6th September 2006 when trying to save his men while in an unmarked minefield.
The manner of his death was as follows. On the morning of the 6 th September 2006, Mark while carrying out routine observations, witnessed Lance Corporal Stuart Hale, who was leading a sniper patrol that had just been engaged in combat against the Taliban, stepped onto a landmine that blew off his leg.
Mark selected some of his men and set off down the slope to help. He made the decision to enter the minefield and assist his injured friend. He then reached Stuart and with the assistance of two orderlies began treating his wounds. Realising that Stuart could bleed to death if they attempted to carry him up the steep slope to return to base, Mark ordered all nonessential personnel away from the minefield.
A helicopter was called, and a path was to be cleared. Unfortunately, Corporal Stuart Pearson detonated another mine that blew off his leg. Mark made his way to him and assisted until a medic could take over.
A Chinook helicopter duly arrived and while descending another mine went off injuring Mark and another medic. The remaining medic went to assist but there was another explosion. The Chinook was ordered to abort, so any hopes of a rescue vanished. There were now Seven casualties in the minefield, three of whom had lost limbs. It would be another three and a half hours before they would be rescued.
During this time Mark never lost his sense of humour and still managed to keep their moral high. On looking round, he seen his friend lying injured and remembering he shouted Happy Birthday and led the other in singing an impromptu version of Happy Birthday. The medic lying beside him turned and asked Mark why he had remained in the minefield and not commanded from a place of safety? His reply was “because youse are ma pals” Unfortunately, when they were eventually rescued Mark died of his injuries in the helicopter.
He was posthumously awarded the George Cross for his actions. I would like to take a direct quote from the coroners report. “Praising Cpl Wright as an exceptional soldier, the coroner said this selfless courage forms part of a tradition within our armed forces and Cpl Wright will continue to be an inspiration for those who follow. That a brave soldier who is lost in battle is always a matter of deep sadness but when that life is lost where it need not have been because of a lack of equipment and assets, those responsible should hang their heads in shame.” Marks memory was and will be preserved. From its humble beginnings of Bob and Gem raising funds for Military Charities, by running stalls at Fairs and the shaking of cans on Princes Street Gardens on wet Armed Forces Day.
The Mark Wright Project in Dalkeith (unfortunately no longer in existence) the formation of the Degree Team and now the founding of Lodge Kajaki No 1848.
Yes, Jem still does her bit at the Fairs.
The two things we should have taken from this Eulogy is “Because youse are ma pals” maybe using it as a motto, or even trying to practice it. From the coroner “Because of a lack of equipment and assets.”
We can’t contribute to all the Military charities or pay their bills. But we can contribute to some and honestly what a difference we can make to some of them.
Kajaki: The True Story, released in North America as Kilo Two Bravo is a 2014 British war docu-drama film directed by Paul Katis in his feature debut, written by Tom Williams, and produced by Katis and Andrew de Lotbiniere.
The plot is based on the true story of Mark Wright and of a small unit of British soldiers positioned near the Kajaki Dam, in Afghanistan.
The film is available on Netflix.