The Veteran Community Comes Together to Help Find a Brother

Posted on April 17, 2019

Overjoyed wife of missing Leigh Park veteran praises army of volunteers for helping to find and save her husband

‘THERE are no words to say how thankful I am of the community around Portsmouth – you’ve helped to save my husband’s life’.

These are the emotional words of the wife of a veteran soldier as her husband was last night found safe and well after an army of volunteers rallied to rescue him.

Robert Ballantyne disappeared on Sunday morning and had not been seen for 36 hours when he was eventually found in woodland north of Havant.

The 37-year-old, who previously served with the former Royal Highland Fusiliers and is a Kosovo War veteran, handed himself to police as the search teams closed in on his position.

Now his relieved wife Kirsty Ballantyne has paid tribute to all those involved in the search for the father-of-two.

‘What they have done has been phenomenal, I can’t put it into words just how thankful I am,’ said the 37-year-old. ‘They have saved my husband’s life.

‘I was thinking that we’re definitely going to find a body. They have brought him back home for me. I’m just so relieved.’

Mr Ballantyne vanished at about 7.30am on Sunday, telling his two young children he was ‘going out to walk the dogs’.

However, his wife became worried when she saw the family pets were still at home and immediately called the police, fearing for her husband’s safety.

Within hours an army of volunteers had been mobilised to join teams from Hampshire Constabulary and Hampshire Search and Rescue.

The bulk of the volunteer search force was led by Portsmouth-based armed forces group All Call Signs, which specialises in hunting for at-risk missing veterans.

Dan Arnold, co-founder of the group, spearheaded the rallying cry and yesterday co-ordinated a major search operation north of Leigh Park.

Involving more than 50 people – made up of current and veteran soldiers, former Royal Navy sailors and RAF personnel, off-duty police, civilians and drone operators – teams scoured the area for five hours until Mr Ballantyne was found.

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