Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 9°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

Police carrying out enquiries. Library image.

Detectives are continuing their hunt today for a man who has abducted his three-year-old son.

A group of WW2 Military Vehicle Owners  joined forces with the Harwich Society to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the end of WW2. L-R Suzanne Stevens,Amelia Stevens,Clive Stevens,Ed Abbott.

An aerobatic display above Harwich harbour wowed crowds today as the town marked the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.

Police investigate the scene of a road traffic collision on Lexden Road in Colchester involving an unmarked police car.

Two police officers have had to be cut free from their car after a crash in Colchester.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls and chef Delia Smith arrive at Brighton Hove and Sussex sixth form college for an election campaign visit today. Photo: PA

Best-selling cookery writer and TV presenter Delia Smith has become the latest celebrity to urge voters to back Labour in Thursday’s General Election.

Woodbridge Horse Show at Trinity Park, Ipswich

A sun-covered Trinity Park played host to the 143rd Woodbridge Horse Show today.

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and their new daughter leave the Lindo Wing of St Mary's hospital. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have called their new baby daughter Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, Kensington Palace has announced.

Felixstowe fun run

The organisers behind a fun run in a Suffolk seaside resort have claimed the event was a “resounding success.”

Mick McCarthy gives his captain Luke Chambers a hug after the game at Blackburn

Almost 12,500 tickets have already been sold for Ipswich Town’s play-off semi-final first leg against Norwich City.

Police are carrying out enquiries about the break-ins

Burglars struck across Felixstowe last night in four different break-ins which police are linking.

Firefighters have attended to incidents in the west of Suffolk this afternoon.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages