Work Hard, Play Hard
It’s been a busy 6 months on 606 Sqn and the Part Time Voluntary Reservists (PTVRs) have had the opportunity to experience not only the hard work and professionalism of the RAF but also the fun and adventures that are on offer.
Between January and April, 14 members of the Engineer Flight were involved in Operation RIGEL. Late last year, a request was received for the team to provide much needed vehicle maintenance support to the Army Aviation Centre at Middle Wallop. This was in addition to a request from RAF Brize Norton to provide maintenance assistance to the Airfield Support Equipment. Always ready for a challenge and undaunted by the scale of the task, this was an opportunity for the engineers to demonstrate their flexibility, co-ordinate manpower across multiple sites and provide much needed support to not only Joint Helicopter Command but also the wider RAF. Over a period of 8 weekends a total of 47 different items of equipment were returned to service. This was all due to the engineering teams hard work, drive and determination.
In January 8 members of the Sqn, including the Officer Commanding and the Squadron Adjutant, attended the Royal Navy Ski Championships in Tignes, France. This provided the group of mixed ability skiers, some never having been on skis before, the opportunity to develop their skills. Amongst a group of 75 personnel on the detachment, 606 members held their own. Flt Lt Gilmore, the Squadron Adjutant was particularly proud of her best wipe-out off the slopes award, while the OC, Sqn Ldr Bucknell came first in his category during racing (fastest over 50 RAF officer on the RN ski champs!) Much fun was had by all with many keen to attend again next year.
In March Chief Tech Duley and Cpl Callan deployed with 48 PTVRs from around the country on Exercise WINTERMARCH in the Hardangervidda National Park in Norway.
Hosted by the Norwegian Reserve Officers Federation (NROF) this longstanding annual event provides PTVRs the opportunity to experience both Norwegian military training and their culture. With temperatures dipping as low as -23, they had perfect conditions to learn how to survive in extreme cold weather conditions. Over the week they learnt skills such as cross-country skiing, how to survive during an avalanche and how to dig snow shelters.
One of the highlights of the week was visiting the Heavy Water Plant at Vemork where they received a detail tour and brief about its history and the importance of the British-led saboteurs during Operation GUNNERSIDE in 1943. Despite the days being long and physically demanding, Duley and Callan thoroughly enjoyed this unique experience.
On Friday 22 March, SAC Nick Mackey received the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Worshipful Company of Lightmongers annual Military Affiliation Awards dinner.
Arriving on the Sqn in 2016, SAC Mackey (Chef) has demonstrated that in a short period of time, reservists can become invaluable members of the RAF. Despite having a busy full-time job as head chef of the Officers’ Mess at HQ Army, Andover he regularly deploys on Exercises and provides vital catering services to the RAF. Accompanied by Air Marshall Sir Ian Macfadyen, the 606 Sqn Honorary Air Commodore and Flt Lt Gilmore, the Sqn Adjutant, Mackey was treated to an evening of tradition and grandeur at the Clothworkers Guild hall. Mackey is an example to all and an achievement well deserved.
On 25th and 26th March 2019, RAF Benson and 606 Sqn hosted 16 Honorary Air Commodores (HACs) from across the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) for the
bi-annual HAC conference. In attendance was AVM Lord Beaverbrook, the Commandant General of the RAuxAF, Air Chief Marshal Torpy and Air Marshal North to name but a few of the distinguished guests. Sqn Ldr Bucknell took the unique opportunity to showcase not only 606 Sqn but also the professionalism of RAF Benson. Following an afternoon of RAuxAF related briefings, the HACs were given the opportunity to visit the RAF Benson Ethos & Heritage Facility, receive a briefing on the Station’s present and future commitments as well visiting a Puma and Chinook static display. The event was completed by an air experience flight in a Chinook and a tour of the Medium Support Helicopter Aircrew Training Facility.
606 Sqn continue to deliver vital support across Benson and JHC, both at home and overseas. Personnel are deployed on Op TORAL, Op NEWCOMBE and Op AZOTISE in addition to providing continued assistance within Stn MT, Supply, the JRM and working within Sqn Ops at RAF Odiham. So, as you can see life in the Reserves world is varied but never boring!
Flt Lt Rosie Gilmour