Afghan medals go to Army engineers

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THE soldiers who keep the Army on the move received their Afghanistan service medals in a ceremony at Wattisham.

The 350 members of 7 Air Assault Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers had the job of servicing and repairing most of the 16 Air Assault Brigade’s equipment, from weapons and vehicles to helicopters and drones.

The men and women were led into one of Wattisham Airfield’s hangars on Wednesday by the Royal Engineers’ band. Then, Padre Norman McDowall led them in remembering Company Sergant Major WO2 Steve Cooke who died of cancer last week and was buried on Tuesday.

Medals were presented by Commander Field Army Lt Gen Barney White-Spunner and Army Chief Aircraft Engineer Col Rod Williams.

Afterwards, 7AA Battalion commanding officer Lt Col David Potts said the unit had performed extremely well. They did six months’ training before deployment but Lt Col Potts said: “In training you’re always limited because you can’t replicate the sort of failures you get in theatre. You get out there and learn very quickly.”

Capt Pip Lines was operations officer, making sure technicians were sent where they were needed, a very differnt job in Afghanistan to doing it in the UK.

She said: “The guys were fantastic. They worked their socks off every day. You think they’re going to need a break, but they just carry on.”