Driving Home For Christmas Chris Rea
22 January 2013, 12:56
Prince Harry is finishing a tour of Afghanistan where he's been serving as an Apache helicopter pilot - something he trained for at Wattisham in Suffolk.
Prince Harry's commanding officer, who lives in Suffolk, said being in charge of the royal in Afghanistan was a "huge honour and a privilege''.
Major Ali Mack, who regularly flies on helicopter missions over Helmand Province, has got to know the 27-year-old prince very well since monitoring him on his training course. He joined the army in 1997, and has been Officer Commanding 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps since last January. He said: "It's a huge honour and a privilege for me to command Harry, Captain Wales, in theatre, and back in the UK. I was intimately involved throughout his conversion to type, and conversion to role, so I got to know him very well.''
Maj Mack, 37, has been flying helicopters for 15 years and is one of the regular pilots on the rota in his squadron. "I've been flying helicopters since the get-go,'' he said.
"My pilot's course started in 1998 and I've been very fortunate that the majority of my jobs have been command flying jobs, obviously interspersed with a few staff jobs in between.'' The army officer, who now lives in Wattisham in Suffolk, where the regiment is based, said Prince Harry managed to balance his army life with his royal life while on his second tour of duty.
"Certainly there are lots of different sides to Harry,'' he said. "But the side that we see is of a very professional, dedicated, young military officer, hugely enthusiastic operating Apaches, and I think he's very pleased to get back out on operations.
"I think he was delighted to be given the opportunity to deploy back out to Op Herrick, in the flying role this time, which is markedly different to his previous tour, which was obviously on the ground.''
He added: "Nobody views him any differently, and I certainly treat him as I would any of my officers.''