Musical paras honoured for morale boosting tour

A BAND of soldiers in Colchester have been honoured for their morale-boosting deployment to Afghanistan.

The Band of The Parachute Regiment are today preparing for a summer of performing at medal parades and civic events for 16 Air Assault Brigade.

But on Saturday they were centre stage as they were awarded medals for their service in the warzone over the Christmas and New Year period.

The Operational Service Medals were presented by Major General David Rutherford-Jones CB, the Colonel Commandant of the Corps of Army Music at Merville Barracks.

The Para Band’s visit to Afghanistan was its first to the country and the first time they have worked in an operational theatre alongside 16 Air Assault Brigade.

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As well as performing at traditional carol concerts at Camp Bastion and Kandahar Airfield, the band took their rock group Ripchord out to entertain troops at forward operating bases (FOB) and played with the Afghan National Army’s 25 Corps band.

When not playing, band members carried out general duties to give soldiers a break.

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Captain David Hammond, the band’s Director of Music, said: “It was a very successful tour and I hope it paves the way for more visits to Afghanistan by military bands.

“Our primary purpose was to provide musical support to British forces, which means entertaining our troops and boosting their morale when they are away from their loved ones.

“We achieved that in a number of ways, from carol concerts to running musical quiz nights out in the FOBs.

“But the most rewarding element was working with the ANA band. Music is a part of the Afghan culture, but during the Taliban regime musical instruments were either hidden or destroyed. We took out some instruments for the band, and enjoyed teaching and playing with them.”

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