Families greet RAF’s war-zone troops

RELIEVED families have welcomed home Suffolk troops after their tour of Afghanistan.

All 125 men from D Squadron of The Joint Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Regiment, which is made up of the First Royal Tank Regiment and 27 Squadron RAF Regiment, returned from Helmand province to their base at RAF Honington.

Troops were reunited with their families at an aircraft hanger which was decorated with banners.

Squadron leader Major Mike Taylor said: “For most of them it’s been a bit of a white-knuckle ride for the last six months and they were very much relieved to see everyone back.”

The 37-year-old added: “I personally was very relieved to come home with the same people I came out with without any fatalities.

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“So, the main feeling was relief but also it’s quite surreal coming back to Britain when you have been operating in Helmand. Most of it looks like it would have done 1,000 years ago.”

Maj Taylor said the squadron had suffered three casualties on tour – two with very serious injuries – in two separate incidents driving over improvised explosive devices.

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Over the last six months the squadron has been operating Viking tank vehicles, providing support to infantry battle groups who were tasked with creating secure Afghan communities.

The squadron also played a lead role in Operation Moshtarak to clear the area of northern Nad-e-Ali of insurgents.

Maj Taylor said it was an “emotionally-charged moment” when the troops were reunited with their families.

They have had two days at home before going back to work for two weeks to help them adjust and then they will enjoy a month off.

For Maj Taylor it has been his only tour since the birth of his daughter Catherine, now aged two-and-a-half. “It’s been particularly difficult. You know at that stage they are developing so quickly,” he said.

“So it’s been difficult missing that bit of her growing up but I’m glad to be back with her now.”

The squadron is due to receive Afghanistan campaign medals on Saturday at the base in Honington and the following day will march through Bury St Edmunds and attend a service at the cathedral.

There will also be a medals parade in Thetford on June 25.

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