Flintshire man dies in freak military blast

Reporter:

Hayley Collins

A FORMER Connah’s Quay man has died after a freak accident in Australia.

Air Force Sergeant Michael Dunn, who grew up in Prince’s Street, was critically injured in an explosion during a military exercise in Brisbane in July.

He suffered third-degree burns to his head, face, arms, chest and airways and died in hospital on Monday.

His family in Connah’s Quay have paid a moving tribute to their “kind and generous” son ahead of a memorial service to be held in the town today.

His mother Jean Prior, who still lives in Prince’s Street with husband David, said: “It has come as a massive shock to us.

“He was such a kind and generous son and he was a real family man – he loved his kids and his grandkids.

“He was also very proud of being in the Australian Air Force

“All we know about the accident is that he was involved in an explosion during a mission with the American military.”

Sgt Dunn, 52, who had served in the Royal Australian Air Force for 27 years, was in a portable toilet block when it exploded.

It is suspected it had been exposed to a fuel spill, but the cause of the explosion is still being investigated by the Australian Defence Force

At the time Sgt Dunn had been taking part in Talisman Sabre – a bi-annual joint military and humanitarian exercise with the US military.

Sgt Dunn spent eight weeks in hospital where he underwent countless skin grafts.
Mrs Prior said he had started to slowly improve, but following an operation on his pancreas at the weekend doctors were unable to stop the bleeding.

RAAF chief Air Marshal Geoff Brown has paid tribute to the respected airman.

He said: “Sgt Dunn was highly respected and well-liked by his colleagues.

“Those who visited Mick since the accident were all affected by the courage and determination that he showed during his treatment and are extremely saddened by his passing.

“Our thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of Sgt Dunn.”

Michael Dunn moved to Connah’s Quay from Merseyside when he was 12 with mother Jean, stepfather David and brother and sisters Paul, Jane and Louise.

He was a pupil at Connah’s Quay High School and after leaving school at 16 secured an apprenticeship at Shotton Steelworks. He later went back to study at Deeside College.

After marrying his wife Lorraine in 1981 the couple decided to emigrate to Australia where they had two sons, Stephen and Mark who has followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Royal Australian Air Force.

Mrs Prior said Michael was a huge Liverpool FC supporter and never forgot his roots.

“He would get up in the middle of the night in Australia to watch Liverpool playing,” she said.

He also had two grandchildren Gavin, seven, and Brianna, two, of whom he was very proud.

A full military funeral will take place in Australia and his body was flown from Brisbane to his home in Darwin yesterday.

A memorial service to be attended by his friends and family will take place today, Friday, at St Mark’s Church, Church Street, Connah’s Quay at 3pm. The service is open to anyone who knew him.

Mrs Prior added: “I would like anyone who knew him or remembers him from this area to come along.”

See full story in the Leader

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