Corporal Maxime Blasco killed in action in the Gourma region of Mali
Born on December 4, 1986, in Grenoble, Corporal Maxime Blasco spent his entire career in the 7th Battalion of the Chasseurs Alpins (Alpine Hunters). He enlisted on August 1, 2012, and quickly distinguished himself during his basic training thanks to his positive attitude and skills. In turn, he became a marksman and then sharpshooter with the Groupe Commando Montagne (Mountain Commando Group).
In June 2014, he was deployed to the Central African Republic, Chad, and Senegal in support of Operations Sangaris and Barkhane as a marksman. He distinguished himself each time during combat by his precision and his composure. As a result, he was awarded the Cross for Military Valor with a bronze star.
From September 2016 to January 2017, he was deployed to Mali in support of Operation Barkhane as a sharpshooter with the Mountain Commando Group. He was involved in several covert operations during which his courageous actions led to the arrest or neutralization of armed terrorist groups. His involvement earned him a Témoignage de Satisfaction (Token of Satisfaction).
He was then deployed to Operation Barkhane once again from September 2017 to January 2018, during which he distinguished himself on two occasions. Firstly, by taking part in a night raid of a house sheltering five armed jihadists during which, as leader of the assault team, he found himself facing four enemy combatants whom he took prisoner. He later took part in the capture of a major weapons and explosives depot, helping to neutralize enemy sentries after infiltration into hostile territory. He was again awarded the Cross for Military Valor with a bronze star.
While serving with Operation Barkhane from May to September 2018 as a gunner aboard a Gazelle helicopter, he provided effective support to ground troops as well as intelligence on allied and enemy positions; on several occasions, the accuracy of his fire prevented an armed terrorist group from reorganizing in a very dense wooded area. Likewise, he was able to neutralize a vehicle convoy. For the third time, he was awarded the Cross for Military Valor with a bronze star.
Deployed to Operation Barkhane for the fourth consecutive time in May 2019, he came under unusually heavy fire during the night of June 13. Serving as a gunner aboard a Gazelle helicopter following the detection of a terrorist group in a wooded area, he fired upon and neutralized a group of some 30 terrorists who were hidden there. Hit by enemy fire, the helicopter had to make an emergency landing and Corporal Blasco was ejected upon impact.
Despite serious injuries and the immediate proximity of enemies, he did not hesitate to extract the pilot and commander, who were wounded and trapped in the burning aircraft. He dragged them some 150 feet to a clearing and – still under enemy fire – used an impromptu manoeuver to load them into a Tiger helicopter that was providing backup; through sheer arm strength, he then clung to the landing gear. His action enabled the rescue and survival of the helicopter crew. Wounded in the back and suffering from multiple vertebral fractures, he was repatriated to France on June 18, 2019. In recognition of exceptional services, he was awarded the Cross of Military Valor with a silver-gilt star and the Military Medal by the President himself.
On September 24, Corporal Blasco was killed in action during a reconnaissance and harassment mission conducted by the Barkhane force in the Gourma region of Mali southeast of N’Daki in the vicinity of Gossi, near the border between Mali and Burkina Faso.
Corporal Blasco was in a civil partnership and was the father of one child. He died for France, while carrying out his mission.