Soldiers who have been operating the Army's Apache attack helicopters in Afghanistan were praised this week for their outstanding performance by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
Prince Charles, who is Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps, presented Operational Service Medals to soldiers from 4 Regiment Army Air Corps (4 Regt AAC), who have recently returned from Helmand province, at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk on Wednesday 20 July 2011.
Some 35 soldiers, including both air and ground crew, received their campaign medals after completing their first tour.
Addressing the troops, Prince Charles said:
The Army Air Corps’ outstanding performance has drawn amazing admiration from those you support. I know all that you do is very much part of a team effort, everyone plays their part, and I can only offer my thanks.
Having visited Afghanistan last March, and having seen something of [Camp] Bastion, I at least have a vague idea of the sort of conditions you’re enduring and putting up with.
I had to be shown how to strap myself in and get used to what goes on in the aircraft by my youngest son.
The trouble was that I found out very quickly that I’m past my sell-by date on the instrumentation, and just about everything else, because I haven’t had the advantage of being part of the PlayStation generation which, I suspect, is a vital need as far as flying the Apache is concerned.
But, I did at least discover just what an extraordinarily sophisticated and remarkable machine it is.
Prince Charles concluded by thanking all the families for their support and understanding.
Prince Charles also presented a Meritorious Service Medal to Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1) Leadbetter, and Long Service and Good Conduct Medals to Staff Sergeants Hughes, Clifford and Poole.
WO1 Leadbetter said:
You’re nominated by your chain of command, you then go to the medals board, and, if you’re lucky enough, your name is listed in the Queen’s honours list.
I’m very proud indeed. It caps my career very nicely.
Soldiers from 4 Regt AAC flew and maintained the Apache in Afghanistan from May 2010 to January 2011, with the regiment’s 654 and 664 Squadrons each completing a four-month tour.
From October 2010 to the end of their tour, 4 Regt AAC flew in support of units from 16 Air Assault Brigade, to which the regiment belongs and deployed with on Op HERRICK 13.