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15 June 2011, 05:42 | Updated: 15 June 2011, 05:49
More than 250 of our servicemen will be welcomed home this afternoon with a homecoming parade through Ipswich town centre.
People will line the streets to greet 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, which is based at Wattisham, to mark the unit’s return from a year-long commitment to operate the Apache attack helicopter in Afghanistan.
The parade will set off from the Black Horse Lane car park at 1.30pm. The route will take them through Ipswich town centre, including Westgate Street and Tavern Street, to Christchurch Park, where Mayor of Ipswich, Cllr John Le Grys will take the salute. A drumhead service will be held at the Cenotaph, starting at 2pm, which will also celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Royal British Legion. The troops will then march back along the same route.
Major Tom Hargreave, the regiment’s acting commanding officer, said: “This is our opportunity to give something back to the people of Ipswich, in recognition of the outstanding support they provide to the Regiment. Soldiers and their families are all made to feel part of the local community, particularly during our deployment in Afghanistan.
“I hope that residents of Ipswich and the surrounding area will come out in numbers to see the parade and enjoy both the occasion and the gratitude it represents.”
Mayor of Ipswich, Cllr John Le Grys said: “I believe we must respect and honour those soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect us all and keep us safe, and the town honours these men and women by welcoming home in the most fitting way it can by public ceremony.”
4 Regiment Army Air Corps is based at Wattisham and flies the Apache attack helicopter. They unit operated in Afghanistan from January 2010. Each of the regiment’s three squadrons completed a four month tour before 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, also based at Wattisham, took over the responsibility in January 2011.
Apaches from 656 Squadron 4 Regt AAC are currently deployed onboard HMS Ocean, flying missions over Libya.