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1 June 2012, 09:48
Soldiers who fly and maintain the Apache attack helicopter have been presented with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal on their return from operations in Afghanistan.
150 troops from 654 Squadron based at the airfield in Wattisham, Suffolk, returned from a four month tour of Helmand Province last week. Yesterday saw the Regiment paraded to both welcome its soldiers home and mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Major Mark Ackrill, Officer Commanding 654 Sqn, said: “It’s been a very busy and rewarding tour but it’s great to be back to our families, who have been really well looked after by the welfare team.
"It is an honour for the squadron to receive the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal as we celebrate our safe return from operational service. The medal recognises the service of the military to Queen and country, as well as that of the Queen for the country.”
Apache pilot Sergeant Chris Hawkins was on his second tour of Afghanistan, having retrained as a pilot since his first deployment as a signaller in 2006. The 30-year-old said: "It’s fantastic to receive a medal on our return, as recognition of our service at a special time for the whole nation."
664 Squadron has replaced 654 Sqn and will operate the Apache in Afghanistan for the next four months.
The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal is being awarded to all Armed Forces personnel with at least five years' service to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation.