The airmen were presented with NATO’s Non-Article 5 Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR medals. The Queen graciously approved the wearing of the NATO-issued medal by personnel from all Services who had taken part in the Libya operation. IX (Bomber) Squadron were the first RAF fast jet squadron to participate in Operation ELLAMY (the UK’s name for its contribution to UNIFIED PROTECTOR).
They launched Storm Shadow missile strike missions from their base in Norfolk, the 3,000-mile (4,800km) round trips being the first RAF strike missions launched from the UK since the Second World War. It was therefore fitting that the squadron were the first to receive the medal.
The timing of the medal presentation coincided with the annual IX (Bomber) Squadron Association reunion weekend. The reunion offered the ideal opportunity for Association President, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Commander of the UK’s Joint Forces Command, to present the medals.
The medal parade was led by Wing Commander Andy Turk, Officer Commanding IX (Bomber) Squadron, who said:
It was a great honour for the personnel of IX (Bomber) Squadron to receive their Op UNIFIED PROTECTOR medals today, and to receive them in front of our family, friends and Association veterans has made the day particularly poignant.
I am immensely proud of the contribution the squadron made to saving the lives of countless Libyan citizens, and to share that experience with our veterans has been a treasured experience.
Flight Sergeant Si Roberts, one of the members of IX (Bomber) Squadron receiving a medal, added:
It was a real honour to be presented with our medals in front of both our families and many members of the IX (Bomber) Squadron Association. Considering the short time we had to prepare and the pressure of our current Op HERRICK [Afghanistan] preparations, everybody involved in the parade and presentation responded fantastically.
To be the first unit to receive the medal is a fantastic privilege and is a tribute not only to the hard work and effort put in by everybody on IX (Bomber) Squadron, but also to the tremendous support we received from family, friends and the multitude of personnel behind the scenes at RAF Marham.
IX (Bomber) Squadron are in the final stages of preparation ahead of their forthcoming deployment on Op HERRICK 17.