As Cardiff born Lyndsay Morgan prepares to retire, the man who fulfilled a unique role in the Royal Air Force reflects on his time in the Service.
Lyndsay joined the RAF in 1972, aged just 17 and a half, straight from the then Whitchurch Grammar School. “I look back on my 37 years and in some ways it seems like it’s gone in a flash!” he said. As an aircraft engineering technician, he served in his native Wales at RAF Brawdy, as well as on detachments around the world. It wasn’t an easy start; “I had a troubled time as a teenager, but the RAF gave me boundaries, put me back on the rails and allowed me to achieve” he added. Those achievements led him to be selected for a very special role - since November 2006 he has held the post of Chief of the Air Staff’s Warrant Officer, the most senior non-commissioned position in the RAF.
The job description includes acting as personal adviser to the Chief of the Air Staff on matters of concern or interest to the airmen and the airwoman of the RAF, and meeting staff of all ranks and trades is Warrant Officer Morgan’s favourite part of the role. “People on initial officer training ask me what is the best thing I have had from the RAF, and I tell them that it’s trust – that we are trusted to carry out our jobs” he said. “I am trusted to understand the Chief’s intent, and to spread that message, but I do it in my own way - I do it as a Welsh man. If you took the passion out of it then I wouldn’t be doing my job”.
Acting as a link from the top man down to new recruits is one thing, but Lyndsay also goes back up the chain to promote the interests of the RAF staff he visits. Does he see himself as a bit of an Agony Uncle at times? “At 54 years old I can act as an avuncular figure to many people, including junior officers – I try to set a good example. I am involved with meetings at the very top level, so I can reassure everyone that the conversations in the crew rooms are usually the same as those in the corridors of power. It’s not just about the Chief’s expectations, it’s also meeting the expectations of our people – our junior ranks and officers”.
Raising the profile and hard work of RAF staff has kept Lyndsay busy, in what he describes as a unique job. “Perhaps the weirdest thing I’ve done was after a meeting with military parachute instructors in Bedford, as I ended up flying in a freefall training tunnel!” he remembered. He considers himself lucky to have had such an interactive last job. “It’s great to see the fantastic work we are doing – it’s the people who amaze me, their skills and dedication – the charity work and the sporting endeavours they find time to do alongside their jobs”.
What will he miss most when he retires? Lyndsay replied “being part of the organisation, part of something bigger and better than myself, that’s what I’ll miss. It’s been a real privilege to be part of the RAF. I sometimes have to pinch myself, when I realise the trouble I was in as a youngster, and here I am being an example to others”.
As the RAF loses perhaps one of their most passionate spokesmen, the Welsh man is proof of where military life can take you. “I have loved my time in the RAF” he ended. “We all find a niche for ourselves, and I found it late in life, as an instructor. There is room in the Service for everybody – it doesn’t matter what background you come from”.
Lyndsay and his wife Gill hope to head back to Pembrokeshire one day, where he says his heart really lies.
The new Chief of the Air Staff’s Warrant Officer will be Warrant Officer Gary Wilcox, who takes post on Monday 27 July 09.
Editor: Lesley Woods.
Photographer: RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2009.