“To DEFERENCE and BEYOND!”
It has been a long haul from the early days of Operation DEFERENCE back in February, with the now infamous line “Ensure you pack enough kit for 5 days”. As the detachment rolled into Operation ELLAMY by the beginning of March and then by April into the now well known NATO Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR (OUP) it was evident that more kit would be required. Did it really last 8 months? Indeed it did and all of the Squadron can testify to that.
Eventually, after 8 months on the operation the final day did arrive with the last mission to be flown on OUP on the 31 Oct 2011. After much frantic preparation the scene was set for getting the whole detachment back within 24 hours, no mean feat! Aircrew, engineers, mission briefers, forward handler, Operations staff and Intelligence personnel all packed up and ready to go. Mission crew airborne first, followed by the 2nd mission aircraft and finally all remaining personnel on the NATO Transport aircraft, leaving only a skeleton crew of engineering staff to clear up the remnants of our stay in the Mediterranean.
The final mission was be flown by a mixture of 8 and 54 Squadron personnel with the Captain, Tactical Director and Fighter Allocator from 54.
As fortune would have it the Squadron boss, Wing Commander Moss was the last Detachment Commander for OUP and as such also flew back on this last mission.
With most of the Squadron heading off on some well deserved leave (after meeting the Deputy Prime Minister for a collective pat on the back (see other articles in this issue – Ed)) the 8 Squadron contributions for INSIGHT are a little light on the ground. I promise that the January edition will be a more entreating read. It leaves me with one more announcement – congratulations to Flight Sergeant Alan Dyer on being awarded the “Airman of the Year”. In the meantime I will leave you with some pictures of last week away in support of Operation Unified Protector.