Royal Air Force personnel have been honoured at the The Sun Military Awards 2012, in a celebrity filled reception presided over by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales.
In categories voted for by the public and judged by ex Service Chiefs and a celebrity panel, the “Millie's” celebrate the duty and devotion of the Armed Forces, this year marked by an awards ceremony at the Imperial War Museum, London.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, said:
“It was truly a privilege to attend last night’s Sun Military Awards ceremony and listen to some amazing examples of acts of bravery, selfless devotion to duty, professionalism and generosity.”
“Each and every one of the Royal Air Force nominees and winners may be justifiably proud of their achievements during a year which has seen the Service make a critical and magnificent contribution on operations, most notably in Afghanistan, whilst simultaneously meeting our standing commitments and the historic events of 2012 – Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the London Olympic Games. Like the vast majority of the British public I am so proud and impressed by their extraordinary contributions, which are consistently in the very finest traditions of the Royal Air Force and, indeed, our British Armed Forces.”
“I thank all of the guests who attended and supported last night’s Awards ceremony, together with The Sun, which has been the driving force behind the event, and not least the members of the public who have taken the time to nominate Service personnel in each of the Awards categories. It means an enormous amount to the men and women of our Armed Forces that their dedication and sacrifice are recognised in this manner, and that they are very grateful for the enduring support and thanks of the nation.”
The awards provide the Great British public with a chance to directly thank RAF personnel for their professionalism and service, across a wide range of tasks, split into the following categories:
Most Outstanding Airman
This category was won by Sergeant Roy Geddes, 51 Squadron RAF Regiment, RAF Lossiemouth, for his role in the defence of Camp Bastion on 14 September this year. As the Quick Reaction Force Commander he led his team in a battle against Taliban fighters in a direct attack on the Camp's defences. Despite being wounded he fought on until the base was once again safe, in a fire fight that claimed the lives of 2 United States Marine Corps personnel and injured several of his colleagues.
“It was a real honour to even be nominated for a Millie, I was stunned when I found out that I had been put forward for an award of this stature. It was wonderful to win, all the troops involved in supporting ISAF mission in Afghanistan are heroes, so it's nice to be recognised for the effort and hard work you do.”
Group Captain Scott Miller is the Deputy Force Protection Commander at the RAF Regiment home base of RAF Honington.
“Sgt Geddes’ award not only recognises his personal gallantry under intense fire, but also reflects the courage and fortitude of the RAF Regiment in Afghanistan and the many other operational theatres it has been engaged in since it was formed. Its role is to fight on the ground to defend the Royal Air Force and allies in order that air power, which is critical to success, can be employed free from enemy interference. The risks are high and the role demands determination, resilience and very high levels of surveillance and infantry-type skills. Sgt Geddes and his men are a fine example of those fighting qualities.”
Warrant Officer Mark Townsend, RAF Leeming,ran the No 1 (Field Communications) Squadron Charities Team (Tactical Communications Wing), raising more than £17,000 for charities during a four month deployment in Afghanistan. Inspired by Phileas Fogg’s trek in Around The World In Eighty Days, he urged his men to run, cycle and row in the gym the distance around the world for worthy causes.
“I feel extremely honoured to be nominated and proud to represent the lads I work with. The time we spent fund raising gelled us together as a team, often in arduous conditions, and helped us achieve something that will ultimately benefit others less fortunate than ourselves. These accomplishments are at the core of our military ethos and I hope that the good work carried out by our Squadron will help to stimulate others.”
Chief Technician Derek 'Taff' Edwards,based at RAF Benson, is a logistics expert making sure that vital spare parts reach the front line. He was nominated for his efforts in Helmand, leading to the safe delivery of more than £20million worth of parts for the essential RAF helicopters providing safe air transport for troops in Afghanistan.
“What I do is a hugely satisfying job. I never thought it would earn me a Millie nomination, though – it still hasn’t sunk in. I am just doing my job and am a small cog in a very large machine. I couldn't do any of the things I've been nominated for if I didn't have the support of other people and management at RAF Benson and of course the huge support of my family.”
Life Saver Award
The Medical Emergency Response Teamswho saved lives during the last six months in Afghanistan were nominated to win the Life Saver Award. Made up of Chinook aircrew, RAF medics and RAF Regiment force protection personnel, they are the flying Emergency Room that is always on call, often landing under heavy enemy fire.
Flight Lieutenant Peter Whitwood did a two month tour as Officer Commanding MERT. “If doing our medical day jobs is like playing for a Sunday league football team, then going to Afghanistan as MERT is like playing at Wembley. That’s how you feel getting these guys back to safety.”
Flight Lieutenant Chris Wilkes is a Chinook pilot from 18 (B) Squadron, RAF Odiham. “I feel a great deal of pride to be part of a team that has been nominated for a Millies award. Flying the MERT into a hostile area to recover the seriously injured is without doubt the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. I have never experienced a more professional and selfless team working environment, and I am moved to see that its role has been recognised as worthy of a nomination.”
Chinook Crewman Sergeant Chris Newton added “The MERT operates as a 12 person team, 4 aircrew, 4 medics and 4 RAF Regiment Gunners. Though this is just a small part of the team, without the support of our Engineers, Armourers, Ops room staff and a number of other units we wouldn’t even get off the ground.”
Squadron Leader Lorrie Lawton, 4626 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, was the first RAF Reservist to take a role in the MERT. Her day job role as a Consultant Nurse for Paediatric Emergency Care prompted her to review the care of injured children in Afghanistan in a medical system designed to care for adults.
“I was surprised to hear I was nominated, as I don’t think I was doing anything out of the ordinary – as far as I was concerned, I was just doing my job. It is a great honour to represent the RAF Reserves at the Millies, I am proud to stand for them and the hard work they all do alongside their regular RAF colleagues.”
RAF Brize Norton is the UK’s largest RAF station, and it's sole purpose is to enable operations a on a global scale. The station works 24/7, 365 days a year - in the past 12 months the base has moved 200,000 troops to and from Afghanistan and handled more than 30,000 tons of freight.
Station Commander Group Captain Steve Lushington is proud of the work of more than 6,000 uniformed staff and 1,400 civilians. “Brize Norton is such a busy place, and everything we do is geared up to support operations. It is an absolute honour for RAF Brize Norton to be nominated in the Best Unit Category at this year Millie Awards. I am extremely fortunate to work with ordinary people who do extraordinary things every single day.”
The awards ceremony, including unique footage of shortlisted individuals and teams at work, plus reconstructions of the acts of heroism that were nominated, will be televised on Friday 14 December at 9pm, on ITV1.
Editor: Miss Lesley Woods
Sergeant Roy Geddes. RAF Winner most outstanding airman.
Warrant Officer Mark Townsend.
Chief Technician Derek 'Taff' Edwards.
Flt Lt Chris Wilkes and Sgt Chris Newton.
Squadron Leader Lorrie Lawton.
Gp Capt Steve Lushington with Olympic Gold Medalist Victoria Pendleton.
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2012