Wattisham’s 3 Regiment Army Air Corps (3 Regt AAC) held a medal parade yesterday to mark the return of its final contingent of troops from Helmand Province.
Lord Tollemache, Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, presented Operational Service Medals to 54 soldiers from 662 Squadron, which returned last week with its Apache attack helicopters, as British combat operations in Helmand ended.
Lord Tollemache said: “662 Squadron has made a quite extraordinary contribution, undertaking five tours over the course of the campaign in Afghanistan.
“It is therefore fitting that they should be the squadron entrusted with protecting Camp Bastion as coalition ground forces extracted and handed over the security of Helmand Province to the Afghan National Security Forces.”
3 Regiment AAC’s Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Mike Neville said: “This parade has been an occasion for us to come together as a Regiment to welcome our soldiers home and recognise their important contribution to operations in Afghanistan this year.”
As well as precision strikes in support of ground troops, the Apache’s role in Afghanistan was to escort helicopters and land convoys and provide a near all-weather surveillance capability.
Apaches from 3 Regt AAC have flown approximately 29,000 hours in support of operations.
Major Charlie Hillman, officer commanding 662 Sqn, said: “It was a great honour to command 662 Squadron as we took the Apache ‘over the finishing line’ in Afghanistan, especially as I had served as a pilot in the Squadron’s first tour in 2007.
“Each of my soldiers can be proud of their contribution to this final tour and it’s great to be back to see our families, who have been really well looked after by the welfare team.”