Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 10°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Gallery: Suffolk soldiers prepare to return home after Afghanistan tour

13:01 17 February 2014

Airtrooper Lauren Morgan and partner Corporal Oliver Mercer

Airtrooper Lauren Morgan and partner Corporal Oliver Mercer

© MOD / Crown Copyright, 2013. This image is for current news purposes only and is available for further use under the Governmen

After six months on tour in Afghanistan, soldiers with the Suffolk-based Apache squadron are preparing to return home.

shares

The Wattisham-based troops have been speaking of their time in Helmand Province, the changes in the region, and their delight at coming back to the county.

Among them are couple Lauren Morgan and Oliver Mercer, who have just completed their first tour of duty in Afghanistan together.

Airtrooper Morgan, 23, and Corporal Mercer, 26, both serve with 654 Squadron (Sqn), 4 Regiment Army Air Corps (AAC).

It was ATpr Morgan’s second tour of the country but this time she was deployed for the first time with her boyfriend of two years.

She said: “It’s nice being on tour together, but no different to what we are used to back home as we met through the Army through working together.”

ATpr Morgan, originally from Aberystwyth in Wales, flew out to Afghanistan on her birthday and served with the Apache detachment as an aviation ground crew specialist and was in charge of all the ammunition for the Apache aircraft.

She was promoted during the tour to Lance Corporal but will not officially start wearing the rank until she returns to her unit in May.

For Cpl Mercer, it was his fourth tour in Helmand Province as a landing point commander and is the only serving personnel to have deployed on all four HERRICK tours that 654 Sqn has been involved in.

The father-of-one said: “I’m part of the ground crew which are essentially like a Formula One pit team. We have to prepare the Apache helicopters when they come in from a tasking, ready to deploy again at a moments notice.”
He added: “Although I’ve enjoyed this tour as much as the previous ones, it’s been at a much slower pace, and we’re firing a lot less due to the Afghans taking the lead and the British troops moving into more of a supportive role.”

ATpr Katie Carter, 22, has completed her first tour in Afghanistan having left her mark in the country.

She created a mural on the blast walls in Camp Bastion which depicts a squadron family tree with all the serving personnel in rank order.

ATpr Carter, who is based in Ipswich at the HQ Squadron in the motor transport department, said: “I wanted it to symbolise the end of the operation which is in sight, in contrast to the other walls which show more harsh images to do with combative tours that we’ve seen over the past few years.”
ATpr Jamie Cruickshank, 26, has completed his fourth tour in Helmand with 654 Sqn and received a commendation for his work as the joint aviation group photographer while worked as a signaller and aviation communications specialist.

He is looking forward to returning home to Ipswich to be reunited with his fiancee Nikita Maddalena.

Lieutenant Jo Binns, 29, served as a ground support flight commander with 654 Sqn in her first tour - a complete contrast to her previous career as England Netball Regional Development Team coach.

She is leaving behind the desert of Afghanistan to focus on her civilian life as she is getting married to Richard Vann in the coming weeks.

She said: “It’s been a great tour, and I hope to deploy again if the opportunity arises again in the future, but I’m looking forward to getting back to the UK to sort out the final preparations for the big day.

“We’ve almost finished, just a few loose ends to tie up.”

shares

1 comment

  • how the armed forces has moved on.

    Report this comment

    TERENCE MANNING

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Firefighters have tackled a blaze in Saxon Road, Saxmundham

Fire crews have tackled a blaze at a house in Saxmundham which left the occupants temporarily homeless.

Hannah Witheridge, picture released by her family.

The family of a University of Essex student brutally killed in Thailand have travelled to the country for the trial of two men accused of murdering her.

UK Power Networks.

A fault on an underground electricity cable caused 404 homes to experience power cuts in Essex this evening.

Police investigating after a burglary.

More than one in 10 house burglaries in Essex are repeat raids on an already targeted home, new figures have revealed.

The travellers in Grange Farm, Kesgrave

A county councillor has said the provision for travellers in Suffolk is “100% untenable”.

Ambulance called to a crash in Essex.

A woman was freed from her car and taken to hospital after colliding with a lorry in Halstead.

A visualisation of the new high school at Moreton Hall.

Educationalists have welcomed the announcement that a west Suffolk-based trust has been put forward to sponsor a new high school in Bury St Edmunds.

Police investigate the scene of an accident on the corner of Prospect Road and Bramford Road.

A young child is being treated for suspected head injuries after colliding with a car in Ipswich.

Brown bins are used for garden waste, but there could soon be a charge

Hundreds of thousands of Suffolk households could have to pay £50 a year if they want to continue to recycle their garden waste through the brown bin scheme.

Dancers Crystal Main and Bruce Lait

Professional dancer Crystal Main said her passion for her art has helped her to overcome the psychological trauma of 7/7.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages