Wing Commander Bill Stoker - Telegraph Wing Commander Bill Stoker, who has died aged 74, provided crucial air support to an SAS team involved in a desperate action at Mirbat during the Dhofar campaign in Oman. Published: 7:17PM BST 17 May 2010 On July 19 1972 nine SAS soldiers had their backs to the sea at Mirbat, on the coast of Oman. From 5am they had been under attack from several hundred well-armed Communist guerrillas who had swept down from the mountains to wipe out their British Army Training Team (BATT) and Omani government forces. The BATT commander called for air support from the largely British-manned Sultan of Oman's Air Force (SOAF) based at Salalah, 20 minutes' flying time away. The very low cloud base was below the limits for the rocket-firing Strikemaster aircraft. But Stoker, who commanded the squadron, threw away the rule book and launched two of his pilots into a counter-attack. The low cloud prevented the aircraft from climbing above small arms range to deliver their weapons in a dive. Aware of the urgency of the situation, they immediately carried out a level strafe and rocket attack at 200ft, an extremely dangerous tactic. With the situation on the ground becoming desperate, Stoker decided to launch two more aircraft and took off in the lead. He attacked the guerrillas with rockets and guns, but on his fourth low-level attack his aircraft was badly damaged by ground fire. His aircraft started to lose fuel rapidly and he was forced to return to Salalah, where he made a difficult emergency landing. The SOAF sorties saved the day. As Stoker and his pilots were striking from the air, a team of 23 SAS soldiers were loaded aboard helicopters and put down at Mirbat beach. They advanced in two groups, wiping out a ridge position held by the guerrillas. By this time the enemy was in full retreat. Never again did they attempt a frontal assault on the coastal plain. The Oman war henceforth would be fought inland, in the mountains. The Sultan of Oman awarded Stoker the Distinguished Service Medal for his actions at Mirbat. William Ian Charles Stoker was born in Hong Kong on November 6 1935. With other civilian dependants he was evacuated to Australia in 1940. He was educated at Dollar Academy before gaining a cadetship to the RAF College, Cranwell. Stoker flew the Hunter fighter/ground attack aircraft in Germany before joining No 92 Squadron, when he was a member of the "Blue Diamonds" aerobatic team of 16 Hunters flying in formation. In 1961, as a flight lieutenant, he served briefly with Brixmis, the British military mission to Soviet forces in East Germany, which maintained an espionage role. RAF officers were expected to conduct close ground-reconnaissance of Warsaw Pact airfields (including soil samples) and aircraft. In 1963 he joined No 43 Squadron and was in the front line of the untidy British withdrawal from Aden, flying air operations in support of the Army in the Radfan Mountains. One veteran of 43 Squadron commented: "We were laying down fire as close as 25 yards to [friendly] army positions." Stoker was in the thick of many of these operations and was awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service. After two years as an instructor with the US Air Force, flying the F-100 Super Sabre fighter-bomber, he took command of 8 Squadron in Bahrain. Following the Oman campaign, as a wing commander, he was CO of 16 Squadron, operating Buccaneer strike aircraft from Laarbruch in Germany. Stoker also served at the National Defence College, Latimer, and held a staff appointment with Nato's northern command in Denmark. Stoker was a regular competitor on the Cresta Run and a life member of the St Moritz Tobogganing Club. Aged only 50, he fell victim to a crippling illness requiring treatment in a nursing home until his death on April 23 this year. His wife Kay, a model, died of cancer in 1991. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.