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The last flight brought an end to a long association with Germany stretching back to 1975 when the regiment first formed up in Lower Saxony.
During their time at Gütersloh elements of the regiment have deployed on operations 17 different times, the most recent occasions being Operation Protego (for the London Olympic Games) and Operation Herrick 18 (Afghanistan).
With the regiment rebasing in the UK next year, where they will convert to using the new Wildcat helicopter, the unit, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Paul Tedman, hosted a number of events over last week to formally mark the cessation of British military flying in Germany.
The 3 highlights were the presentation of Afghanistan Operational Service Medals to a cohort of personnel from 661 Squadron and the helicopter handling detachment, who had only days before returned from Afghanistan, a ‘mini-heroes’ parade where the children of deployed personnel were awarded their own medals, and the final farewell Lynx helicopter flight.
Whilst in theatre 661 Squadron completed over 1,000 flying hours in support of operations and their engineers proudly achieved the highest serviceability levels. And the helicopter handling detachment worked hard managing helicopter landing sites.
In his address to the medal parade Brigadier Neil Sexton, Deputy Commander Joint Helicopter Command and professional head of the Army Air Corps, congratulated everyone on what had been a hard tour in a challenging environment and extended his personal thanks to all the families for the support they provide.
He concluded by adding:
Wear your medals with pride, enjoy your deserved leave and look forward to the exciting future that awaits you in the Wildcat era.
Speaking after the ‘mini-heroes’ parade, Corporal Matthew Garvin said:
It is fantastic that the regiment have held this parade for our children; our families are incredibly important and it’s great to see that the children are recognised and not forgotten about.
Concluding the week’s events, Commander Royal Artillery HQ 1st (UK) Armoured Division, Brigadier Simon Humphrey, addressed 1 Regiment Army Air Corps on parade. He said:
It is an immense privilege for me to be here today to formally mark this significant event – the cessation of British military flying in Germany.
The regiment has a proud record over the last 20 years and it is important that we take the opportunity to reflect with pride on all of those achievements. Well done.
Brigadier Humphrey also took the opportunity to recognise formally in front of the regiment the award of a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in the Air to Major John Tymon for his outstanding airmanship and command that averted the loss of life following a catastrophic engine failure during a routine assessment flight in December 2011.
To mark the last flight of the Lynx from Gütersloh it was wholly appropriate that Major Tymon led the helicopters on a final farewell past the air traffic control tower and his watching colleagues.