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51 Sqn RAF Regiment ( 30 Aug 2007)

Senior Aircraftman Christopher Bridge

SAC Christopher Bridge, aged 20, from Sheffield joined the Royal Air Force on 12 June 2005. After successful completion of his Trainee Gunner Course, undertaken at RAF Honington, he was posted to 51 Squadron RAF Regiment at RAF Lossiemouth on 18 November 2005. During his time on the Squadron he served in Southern Iraq between January and June 2006 providing Force Protection for Basra International Airport.

More recently, SAC Bridge had been deployed on Operation HERRICK providing Force Protection for Kandahar Airfield since April 2007. His role took him into the local community to deliver enhanced security, not only for the Airfield but also for the Afghan population. At the time of his death he was providing security for his colleagues as a top cover sentry for a mobile patrol.

SAC Bridge was an extremely popular and professional Gunner. He was relatively junior in rank; however, he was immensely dependable and hard working. His infectious sense of humour made him stand out amongst other Squadron personnel and he could be relied upon to raise a smile in adversity.

Squadron Leader Tony Brown, Officer Commanding 51 Squadron RAF Regiment, said:

"Senior Aircraftman Chris Bridge was a very competent Gunner, unassumingly professional and with a promising career ahead. Following operational service in Iraq, Chris had consolidated his position on the Squadron as a capable and enthusiastic Gunner whose likeable personality and witty sense of humour made him engaging to serve with. Passionate about travel, he had clearly made his mark on the Squadron and will be sorely missed."

Flying Officer Matt Jupp, Officer Commanding C Flight, 51 Squadron RAF Regiment, said:

"Chris Bridge was a very well liked, motivated and hard working member of the Flight. A once quiet young man he grew into an adventurous, charismatic and intelligent Gunner. He was a high calibre member of the Royal Air Force Regiment and a generally good bloke. I will miss him."

Sergeant 'Oz' Bailey Senior Non Commissioned Officer, C Flight, 51 Squadron RAF Regiment, said:

"Chris Bridge was a member of C Flight for the best part of 18 months. He was a quiet and confident young man and well liked by all on the Flight. His one outstanding trait was his dry sense of humour, which always had us in fits. Never one to complain he worked hard for everyone. He will be missed by me personally and the rest of the gunners on C Flight."

Senior Aircraftman 'Parky' Parkhouse, C Flight, 51 Squadron RAF Regiment said:

"He was a good mate and when we worked together, Chris was nothing less than totally proficient and hard working. He was liked amongst the whole Flight and Squadron. He will be missed so much by everyone and forever in our thoughts."

Senior Aircraftman 'Burky' Burke, C Flight, 51 Squadron RAF Regiment said:

"Chris was a top lad and liked by everybody. He was always happy in a quiet way. Very well known throughout the Squadron for his dry sense of humour. Chris was on C Flight as a specialist machine gunner and will be missed and remembered forever. He will always be with us in our hearts."

Ms Nicolette Williams, mother of Christopher Bridge, said:

"Christopher was my pride and joy; everybody is heartbroken who knew him. He touched so many lives. He died courageously serving his country and Queen and we are all very proud of him."

Defence Secretary Des Browne said:

"Senior Aircraftman Christopher Bridge was held in very high regard by his comrades and officers. His death is a tragic loss which is being felt by all who knew him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and comrades at this most difficult of times."

II Sqn RAF Regt 85th anniversary

22 June 07

 II Sqn RAF Regt celebrated a landmark anniversary in typically unglamorous military style yesterday - by completing an exhausting summer day's march with loaded rucksacks.

More than 70 past and present members of the RAF Regiment's II Squadron took to the country roads around RAF Honington, near Bury St Edmunds, to mark the 85th birthday.

The airmen, who recently returned from a six-month deployment in Afghanistan, warmed up for yesterday's festivities by completing the 10-mile “tab” - a forced battle march - with a 40lb rucksack on their backs.

The squadron members were then joined by more than 200 II Squadron veterans and their families for an afternoon of fun and games before ending the birthday celebrations with an evening hangar party.

Warrant Officer Mike O'Hara, of II Squadron RAF Regiment, said the 10-mile tab was “hard graft”, but “fitting” for the 85th anniversary because it was a march that every airman and woman had to complete before joining the historic squadron.
Members of RAF Regiment
“Every year we celebrate the anniversary of the squadron wherever we are in the world, but every fifth year we celebrate in style. We have just had a successful tour protecting forces at Kandahar Airbase and we are set to be deployed to Basra in February for the fourth time since 2003. In terms of the RAF and RAF Regiment, we set benchmarks for people to follow,” he said.

The squadron has been protecting airbases and military forces since it was formed as the II Armoured Car Company in 1922 in the Middle East. It moved to RAF Honington with the rest of the RAF Regiment in 1994 and has since served in Yugoslavia, Albania, Kuwait, Kosovo, and Sierra Leone.

Former armoured car driver Geoff Plester , who served with II Squadron in Iraq in the 1950s, said yesterday: “We thought the squadron would wind up as it went on, but it has got stronger. When you leave the RAF and get a job and family, you forget about it, but over time you realise what a brilliant squadron it is. Its history is fantastic.”

Source eadt24

RAF Regt : KANDAHAR , Afghanistan

 This week, eight Royal Air Force Regiment service members were awarded U.S. Army medals in recognition of their excellent service while working to safeguard the International Security Assistance Force’s main operating base in the South, Kandahar Airfield. 

British Wing Commander Andy Knowles, Squadron Leaders Steve Carter and Matt Stowers and Warrant Officer Mike O’Hara received Army Commendation Medals. Flight Lieutenant Mark Folley, Flight Sergeant Andy Smith and Sergeant Carl Nunn received Army Achievement Medals. All members are part of the Kandahar Airfield Force Protection Team.

“These fine soldiers demonstrated exemplary dedication and commitment to the protection of Kandahar Airfield and upheld the highest ideals of military service,” said Army Col. Richard Stephen Williams, Commander, 207th Infantry Brigade and U.S. National Command Element South.  “Their service is a credit to themselves, the 207th Infantry Brigade and the Royal Air Force Regiment.”

The Kandahar Airfield Force Protection Team is composed of soldiers from Romania, Canada, the U.S., United Kingdom, Netherlands and Denmark.  The team was responsible for substantially increasing security around NATO’s Kandahar Airfield; the largest operating base in the South as well as conducting numerous village outreach projects in the surrounding area which benefit the neighboring local population areas.

Tigercats to Central America Book Research

Rowland White is currently researching a book about a fairly obscure episode in January 1972 when it was thought that Guatemala was on the verge of invading British Honduras. Troops were flown in, HMS Ark Royal was diverted, and an RAF Regiment Tigercat squadron was flown in to defend the airfield. It was, he believes, the only Tigercat squadron in the RAF Regiment at the time.

He knows that there were many subsequent RAF Regiment deployments to BH/Belize over the years that followed, but my particular interest is in that emerging crisis and the urgent efforts to get those Tigercats to Central America.

if you are ex-RAF Regiment personnel who remembered the episode - especially those who actually deployed with the missiles in the last week of January 1972 -  Rowland hope is that he will be able to track one or two people down who he can then interview for the book, because, at the moment, having spoken to RAF Canberra pilots, Grenadier Guards, Fleet Air Arm aircrew and even the ex-Governor of the colony, the RAF Regiment's contribution feels like the missing part of the jigsaw

If you can help please contact me and ill pass on the information

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II Sqn RAF Regiment

06 March 2007

Attacks on a military air base critical to the NATO operation Afghanistan have fallen dramatically after personnel from East Anglia were drafted in to beef up protection.

Kandahar Air Base suffered sustained rocket attacks virtually on a nightly basis from the Taliban until troops from 2 Squadron of the RAF Regiment from Honington and 3 Force Protection (FP) Wing from Marham moved in during the middle of last year.

Wing Commander Andy Knowles, who commands 3FP Wing, said: “Since June 2006, the airbase has suffered no casualties and no significant damage. And last week a number of very senior Taliban leaders were captured by my men.”

But his troops do much more than merely guard the perimeter wire: in the past the base has regularly been targeted by mortars and rockets which can be fired from over five miles away so the FP Wing aims to “sanitise” the area around the outside of the huge air base, which hosts 12,000 personnel from UK, Canada, USA, Netherlands, Estonia, Denmark and Romania.

In total, Wing Cdr Knowles maintains the security of an area of some 400 square kilometres with about 700 troops under his command.

“The Force Protection operation at Kandahar is probably the biggest and most sophisticated of any air base in the world,” he said.

The base is a key air hub for NATO with RAF Harriers, Hercules and Chinooks operating from it as well as US fast jets, helicopters and supply planes.

When the RAF Regiment arrived last May it was usual for the base to come under rocket attack two or three times every night. Once the Squadron arrived and started to patrol outside the wire, the number of rocket attacks dropped to two or three per week and has now fallen to a couple each month.

The troops also interact with local villagers and were involved in a Civil Military Co-operation project building six wells and a 'karez' deep-trench irrigation scheme for the village of Kalantar Kalay, about four miles from the airfield.

Honington's 2 Squadron has been accompanied to Kandahar by 16 members of 2620 Squadron of Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment based at Marham.

Senior Aircraftsman Stuart Goodwin, 37, from Norwich, who has been an auxiliary for eight years, said: “I was called up during the first Iraq war and our squadron went to Kuwait but there, we only operated inside the wire. This is very different - we are working outside the wire which has its dangers but we're well trained and well prepared to take on anything that happens.”

Squadron Leader Steve Carter, 40, from Wisbech, is second-in-command of 3FP Wing after 19 years in the RAF Regiment. “Seeing the work that we've done here, it makes me proud to be a member of the RAF Regiment,” he said.

Flight Lieutenant Matthew Carter – Royal Air Force Regiment – Military Cross

"On 4 June 2006, Flight Lieutenant Matthew Carter of the Royal Air Force Regiment was deployed with 16 Assault Brigade on an operation against a suspected Taliban compound outside the town of Now Zad in Helmand Province. During the first of three contacts, he coordinated and directed close and accurate Attack Helicopter fire support with devastating results for Taliban ground troops. During the last contact, he left his vehicle fearlessly exposing himself to significant risk as he forced his way to the front of the fire-fight to join the forward troops. This enabled him to direct aerial cannon fire against a determined enemy 30 metres in front of him. This risk was essential given the ferocious weight of the incoming fire from the Taliban.

"His direction of these engagements proved critical, destroying the enemy location completely on one occasion. He remained with the lead dismounted elements of Patrols Platoon and took part in the immediate compound clearance. During this time Carter repeatedly exposed himself to a significant chance of being killed and, because of this gallant behaviour in supporting his unit he enabled the Patrols Platoon to regain the initiative.

"On 14 July Carter participated in a Battle Group operation to capture or kill a high value Taliban leader. During the insertion to the helicopter landing site the first wave of Chinook helicopters were heavily engaged by Taliban machine gun and RPG fire causing the aircraft to lift off again, after only 20 seconds on the ground. Fearing being left behind on the aircraft, Carter jumped some 15 feet from the tail ramp into the darkness, realising the vital role he had to play in calling in air support to suppress the enemy. Immediately he got into the cover of a nearby ditch and called in an aircraft to destroy the principal threat of an enemy machine gun. He controlled the aircraft's heavy attacks, which were close to his own location and destroyed the Taliban position only a few metres away. This significant and gallant contribution by Flight Lieutenant Carter proved to be decisive by allowing the remaining aircraft to land the rest of the Battle Group to complete the mission successfully. For this act of selfless bravery he is awarded the Military Cross."

Baghdad: THE usual number of UK special forces in Baghdad is close to 400 men: a single 60-man SAS “sabre” squadron; a company of paratroopers, Royal Marine commandos and RAF Regiment from the Special Forces Support Group; a squadron from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment; and a squadron of radio monitoring experts from 18 (UKSF) Signal Regiment. They also have specialist signallers from 264 (SAS) Signal Squadron, specially fitted-out RAF Chinook helicopters from 7 Squadron and C-130 Hercules transport aircraft from 47 Squadron.

1 Sqn RAF Regiment

A promising Suffolk-based RAF gunner, who was killed in a fierce battle against Iraqi insurgents, was set to get married on his return home next month.

Tributes were yesterday paid to Leading Aircraftman Martin Beard, of 1 Squadron RAF Regiment, based at Honington, near Thetford, who died after a small arms fire attack in Basra on Tuesday night.

The 20-year-old, from Rainworth, near Mansfield, in Nottinghamshire, was taking part in a routine foot patrol at 8.30pm local time, near Basra Air Station, when his patrol came under fire.

The MoD yesterday confirmed that the serviceman suffered a gunshot wound while in the Al Waki district of the Iraqi city and was evacuated by helicopter, but died later at a field hospital.

LAC Beard, who had just turned 20 and was nicknamed 'Beardy', had been a member of 1 Squadron RAF Regiment for just under a year after graduating from basic training at RAF Honington with flying colours.

His commanding officer, Squadron Leader Jason Sutton, said the young gunner was a "strong, fit, exceptionally gifted infantryman", who had a "bright future" and was due to marry his fiancée Nic on his return from Iraq in September.

"Though he was with us for less than a year, he had made his mark and on this most demanding of operations his were the qualities - loyalty, courage, dependability - that make success in our mission possible. In Martin the RAF Regiment has lost one of its most promising young men who will be terribly missed by us all.

"As we grieve for him, we here in Iraq can draw some comfort that he fell, weapon in hand, fighting for and alongside his comrades, doing the job he loved so much. For all of us, there can be no greater inspiration to continue to do our duty with renewed determination and fighting spirit, to live up to his legacy and our regimental motto: Per Ardua - Through Adversity," he said.

The latest fatality comes three weeks after two 1 Squadron RAF Regiment Senior Aircraftmen Matthew Caulwell, 22, from Birmingham, and Peter McFerran, 24, from North Wales, were killed in a rocket attack at Basra Airbase on July 19. A third SAC, Christopher Dunsmore, from 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force, based at RAF Cottesmore, in the Midlands, who had been attached to 1 Squadron since August, was also killed instantly. The squadron is due to return to its Suffolk home base on September 1.




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