Apache crews awarded operational medals

Wattisham Medal Parade - Soliders back from Afganistan and Lybia''Pictured: Lieutenant Colonel Mike Nevill
Wattisham Medal Parade - Soliders back from Afganistan and Lybia''Pictured: Lieutenant Colonel Mike Nevill
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Soldiers based at Wattisham Airfield - who maintain and fly the Apache Helicopter - received campaign medals today for their role in operations in Libya and Afghanistan.

Colonel Andrew Jackson, Deputy Commander of 16 Assault Brigade, presented soldiers from 4 Regiment Army Air Corps who served in Libya with NATO’s Non-Article Operation Unified Protector medals.

Wattisham Medal Parade - Soliders back from Afganistan and Lybia

Wattisham Medal Parade - Soliders back from Afganistan and Lybia

He awarded a further 60 soldiers with Operational Service Medals for serving in Afghanistan.

The two military operations presented difficult challenges to the unit’s air and ground crews - carrying out the Apache’s operations from the deck of HMS Ocean in Libya and the hot and dusty conditions of Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Colonel Mike Newell, 38, from Wattisham, was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service for commanding 656 squadron in Libya.

He said: “This medal was for my time commanding the squadron but it is not really for the individual, it is in recognition on the 100 or so soldiers who carried out the operation.

“I wouldn’t say there were difficulties in Libya, only challenges.

“This squadron doesn’t do difficulties - no problem is insurmountable.

“It was a unique environment and of course we are all soldiers so were surprised when we found out we would be at sea for five to six months.

“When you first learn how to land this eight tonne aircraft on a ship with no lights it is a tricky skill.

“But the real tricky work was over Libya itself, that’s where the high octane moments were.”

Warrant Officer Class 1 Jonathan Lane also received a Mention in Dispatches for his actions during the Libya campaign.

See Friday’s Bury Free Press for more.