Tornado Crews Return To RAF Marham

RAF Tornado crews from the Norfolk airbase at Marham have returned safely - after the end of their service in Afghanistan.

Pilots flew their jets more than 3000 miles yesterday (Saturday) to arrive back after their 6-month tour based at Camp Bastion in Helmand province.

When Felix Prendergast's pilot father went to war, the one-year-old was yet to take his first steps - but today he toddled down the tarmac to greet him on his return.

Squadron Leader Gareth Prendergast returned to RAF Marham from flying Tornado fighter bombers over Afghanistan.

Mr Prendergast's wife, Rachel, and sons Felix and Hector, three, were ready waiting for his return.

Mrs Prendergast, from Norfolk, said:

"Hector is old enough to have some understanding of where his dad has been and has missed him terribly. It's been different for Felix who wasn't even walking when he went away.

For Gareth it's like coming back to a different son and I'm sure they'll have a great time bonding all over again.''

Holding his sons, Mr Prendergast said that being away from family was the hardest part of serving in Afghanistan.

He added:

"You almost form a family of your own while you're out there but of course it's never the same. I've missed a lot of them growing up but have spoken to them regularly on Skype.

I can't wait to get home tonight and spend some time with them.''

Tornado crews have served at Kandahar Airfield since 2009 in a combat and reconnaissance role.

Members of 31 Squadron are the last to complete a tour with 170 people due to return over the coming days.

Liza Brooks and fiance Flight Lieutenant Oliver Payne were also reunited.

Miss Brooks brought along six-month-old spaniel Islay.

Mr Payne said:

"Islay was 12 weeks old when I left and she seems a bit nervous around me now - she probably doesn't recognise me.

It's great to be home and great to see Liza again.''

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