MORE than 100 Suffolk-based soldiers and gunners were due to return home in the early hours of this morning following a gruelling six-month tour of Afghanistan.
The 120 members of D Squadron The Joint Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Regiment, which is made up of the First Royal Tank Regiment and 27 Squadron RAF Regiment, were praised by commanders for their work while on tour in Helmand province.
They were due to land last night at RAF Mildenhall before making their way to their home base at RAF Honington. Their commanding officer, Lieutenant Gavin Thompson, said: “For the last six months, D Squadron of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment has operated on Viking vehicles throughout the entire UK area of operations in Afghanistan.
“The squadron played a lead role in Operation MOSHTARAK and played their part in the development of protected communities in Helmand province.
“During their time good progress has been made to the lives of ordinary people in Afghanistan.
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“Although this progress has come at a cost, with less than 10 casualties and no fatalities we consider ourselves extremely fortunate.
“I am extremely proud of what the men of D Squadron have achieved and grateful too for the support that families and the public have shown them throughout their tour.”
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Prior to the squadron’s return to Suffolk, Major Mike Taylor, commanding officer of D Squadron, said: “We are all hugely looking forward to seeing our loved ones again after what has been a very physically and mentally demanding operational tour but also a very rewarding one.
“It is definitely time to come home now though, and after a short spell decompressing at work we will go on post-tour leave with our families and friends for some hard-earned rest and recuperation.”