Iraq ten years on: Father Geoff Dunsmore speaks of visit to where son Chris died
The father of a RAF senior aircraftsman, who was killed in Iraq in 2007, has spoken out about his first visit to the place where his son died.
Geoff Dunsmore, 57, who used to live in Bideford and was the head teacher at Chelfham Mill in Barnstaple, travelled to Iraq in November as part of a BBC documentary to mark the ten year anniversary since the country was invaded by British and American forces.
Mr Dunsmore, who now lives in Wales, said since his son Chris died at the age of 29 he has wanted to show people the positive way of coping with such a tragic loss.
Chris was killed in a mortar attack in Basra on the day he was due to return home. Chris had been a member of 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment at RAF Cottesmore.
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He was the first RAF auxiliary to lose his life in action since the Second World War.
During his two week trip Mr Dunsmore visited several Iraqi families and also the base where Chris had been killed.
He said: "Chris used to say I was his inspiration but in the years since we lost him I have found that it has been the other way round, he has inspired me.
"The BBC contacted me last year about going out to Iraq as part of a documentary and I instantly said yes.
"It is called Iraq: Did my son die in vain? I have never, for one minute, thought Chris did.
"Being out there and talking to Iraqis it is 2003, and the invasion itself, which there is bad feeling about.
"Chris' role out there was a peace keeper and the people I met out there were very sympathetic and grateful Chris had sacrificed himself.
"They all agree that Saddam (Hussein) had to go, but the people were very confused when the British forces left, they said they felt they had been deserted.
"People out there wanted to know what I was doing and when they were told they would come and shake my hand.
"The documentary shows an emotional interview at the beginning between me and a Iraqi family but at the end they invited me to stay for something to eat. The documentary doesn't show all of that.
"In total I filmed 80 hours for a one hour programme so a lot has to be left out.
"There is amazing positivity out there but I think our forces should have stayed out there longer to set up the infrastructure.
"One of things Chris did was bring water to a village with his squadron and that seed the forces had sown during those years has now definitely grown into a seedling, which might have been more if they were there for longer."
Mr Dunsmore said since his son died he has used his own experience of grief to help the RAF change their procedures for people who lose a family member in action.
The trip to Iraq has inspired Mr Dunsmore to consider writing a book about Iraq and his son's death and he is also keen to return to the country in the future.
The BBC documentary will be aired on Wednesday on BBC Two at 9pm.