Over thirty five years of exemplary service ended today when Warrant Officer Phil Hunt of 5131 (Bomb Disposal) Squadron retired from the Royal Air Force.
Mr Hunt joined the RAF in 1984 as a weapons mechanic at the age of sixteen. Like every airman of his generation, basic training was completed at RAF Swinderby before trade training at RAF Cosford.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) has been a feature of Mr Hunt’s career since the very beginning. Once qualified, his first posting was to RAF Waddington as a weapons mechanic. Bomb disposal was part of the job, as was the maintenance and preparation of missiles, ejection seats, aircraft cannon and on-board fire extinguishers.
Speaking in 2018, Mr Hunt said: “At its most fundamental level, what we do is engineering. It’s a very specific field; but all the basics in terms of understanding electronics, mechanics, mathematics, hand skills and safety are just as important.”
Warrant Officer Hunt has completed multiple deployments to Operations GRANBY, TELIC and trained EOD operators of all three Services for Operation HERRICK. As an instructor, he applied his extensive knowledge and experience teaching Improvised Explosive Device Disposal; ensuring operators had the confidence and ability to meet a wide range of threats.
In 2018 Mr Hunt was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM). To become eligible for the MSM, personnel must have 20 years’ service, attained the rank of substantive Sergeant and be a holder of the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. Award of the Medal requires good, faithful, valuable and meritorious service, with irreproachable conduct throughout.
Speaking at the time, Mr Hunt said: “The MSM is a massive honour and if I’ve made any contributions at all, I would hope it is showing people how the application of first principles is the safest way to making the harmful harmless.”
Warrant Officer Hunt is the last Squadron Warrant Officer for 5131 Bomb Disposal Squadron. As the Squadron will be formally disbanded later this year, Mr Hunt’s retirement is an understandably poignant moment.
He said: “I’ve had an amazing career that has encompassed all areas of the armament trade working across Defence. RAF Bomb Disposal has been the most rewarding role, we truly have some remarkable people in the RAF and I leave head high having been part of that history. I now go on to head up an R&D department utilising the skills I’ve amassed over 35 years. Task Complete, popping smoke!”
Group Captain Jo Lincoln is the Station Commander at RAF Wittering. “Firstly, and most importantly, we thank Mr Hunt for his selfless service to this country. His commitment to the RAF, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and the welfare of his personnel are matters of record. I know that his troops, both past and present, would follow him anywhere. It is my sincere hope that Mr Hunt fully enjoys the next chapter in his life. Our loss is most certainly industry’s gain.”