An RAF pilot who missed a bus by 10ft while flying refugees out of Afghanistan has said receiving an honour for his actions is “awesome”.
Last year, a suicide bomb went off at Kabul airport before group captain Kevin Latchman attempted to carry 365 people on board a C-17 plane.
Amid the “chaotic scene”, group captain Latchman made the decision to take off from a pitch-black runway following a power cut, narrowly missing a bus that had driven into their path.
On Thursday, he was given the Air Force Cross for leadership and bravery by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace.
He said: “Receiving the honour today was fantastic, it’s really nice to be recognised for something like that and I recognise it was a team effort.
“Everything about Operation Pitting was a team effort and I ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but did the right thing.
“It was amazing to see the Prince of Wales today and have the family here, it’s quite awesome, I’ve never been through the front gates of Buckingham Palace before and I may not ever do it again.
“I spoke to the Prince of Wales about the incident itself, he was aware of the incident and I spoke to him about my decision-making, what happened.”
Operation Pitting was a British military operation to evacuate British nationals and eligible Afghans from the country amid the Taliban takeover last August.
It was while in the air they realised the bus had been missed by 10ft.
Group captain Latchman had made the decision to force the plane into the air early.
He added: “What was running through my head at the time was actually that clear decision-making process, it was quite instinctive.
“It was quite clear I couldn’t stop, it was quite clear I couldn’t get to my speed, so we were left with one option.
“The enormity of it hit in later once we were at a height, and that’s when the shock kicked in.”