'Top Gun' Royal Navy pilot who took on Taliban while flying upside down still waiting to bring American wife home

Rozina Sabur
Commander Simon Rawlins and his wife Marianne celebrate their wedding

A decorated Royal Navy pilot nicknamed “Top Gun” has told how his American wife has been left homeless while the Home Office decides whether she can join him in Britain.

Commander Simon Rawlins, 39, said in a letter to The Telegraph that his wife, Marianne, 34, was stuck in limbo after he was posted home from the United States.

Commenting on reports that the military could be deployed to protect the borders after Brexit, Commander Rawlins said: “Perhaps I will be able to join the Home Office in preventing my wife from entering the country.”

The couple met while Commander Rawlins, who clocked up a record number of flying hours in Afghanistan, was posted to the US to support its navy. They have been living together for the past two years.

Previously describing the hair-raising aerial manoeuvres he used against a Taliban stronghold, he revealed how he flipped his Harrier jet upside down while flying up the side of a mountain at more than 500mph to scare off enemy troops.

It meant he flew just 100ft above ground, which is the minimum safe distance, leaving him vulnerable to potential rifle fire.

Commander Simon Rawlins and his wife Marianne celebrate their wedding

Mrs Rawlins has applied for a visa but is still waiting for it to be processed after being told her application was “not straightforward” but being given no explanation for the delay. She said she had been left homeless and with few possessions – having shipped most of them to the UK in anticipation of joining her husband.

“I’ve paid $100 for multiple calls and emails and all they [UK Visas and Immigration] do is keep you on the phone for as much time as possible and tell you nothing,” she said.

Commander Simon Rawlins and his wife Marianne celebrate their wedding

"To clarify, I’ve joined an online forum where I watch as people from all over the world – including Pakistan and  Tunisia – are processed within mere weeks as I wait months.

"There's no accountability, they just won't tell you. I think they're numb to the idea that this actually affects lives and families, they don't seem to know or care."

Commander Simon Rawlins and his wife Marianne celebrate their wedding

Mrs Rawlins said the situation had caused her considerable financial damage and as a risk management consultant her business had been jeopardised.

She said: "As a risk management consultant,  I have been forced to spend a considerable amount of money on office space and temporary housing solutions to ensure the my business is not viewed as unstable.

"The challenge for me is it's really expensive to live month-to month.  I cannot sign a six month lease, which – while expensive – is less expensive than a month-to-month arrangement because I have no way of knowing how long I will be here."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We are looking into the application made by Marianne Rawlins urgently to seek to resolve the situation as it contained insufficient information to be processed."

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes