Gallery: Parade for soldiers of mothballed Apache helicopter squadron at Wattisham Airfield
18:33 08 July 2014
Crown Copyright 2014: This image may be used for current news purposes only.
Families of soldiers from an Apache squadron which saw extensive action in Afghanistan watched on with pride as they saw them awarded medals for their gallantry.
Members of 654 Squadron paraded for the last time in their group earlier today in a farewell event at Wattisham Airfield, near Needham Market.
A reorganisation of 4 Regiment Army Air Corps (4 Regt AAC), which flies the Apache attack helicopter, has seen the squadron mothballed.
But an army spokesman said the around 100 soldiers involved would be spread between other squadrons in 3 and 4 Regt AAC, both based at Wattisham and other bases around the UK.
Commanding officer of 4 Regt AAC, lieutenant colonel, Chris Bisset said: “This parade has been a bittersweet occasion, mixing the sadness of 654 Squadron’s disbandment with a celebration of the regiment’s contribution to operations in Afghanistan. Since it first deployed in 2006 the Apache has repeatedly proved its value, which is to the credit to our people working both in the air and on the ground.
“All who have served with 654 Squadron, dating back to its origins in the Second World War, can be hugely proud of their contribution. The reorganisation means that the regiment has retained its capabilities in a leaner structure and is fully ready to meet future operational challenges as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, the British Army’s rapid reaction force.”
A total of 10 soldiers were given Operational Service Medals during the event which saw a flypast by an Auster aircraft and Gazelle, Lynx and Apache attack helicopters, which have all been flown on operations by 654 squadron since it was formed in 1942.