July 23 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Honorary colonel Jools Holland welcomed home troops from their final tour of Afghanistan.
The composer, pianist, bandleader and broadcaster joined family and friends of 17 Field Squadron (EOD), 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (EOD) at their Operation Herrick Medal parade at Carver Barracks, on Friday.
Mr Holland, acting in his capacity as honorary colonel of the regiment, said he was “honoured and privileged” to welcome back the soldiers.
“It is very humbling to be here with people who have done such an amazing job,” he added.
“It is the families I think of the most because they are left behind to provide the much needed support and we should be grateful for that.”
Prior to the parade a painting by Suffolk artist Jules George was unveiled in the Officers’ Mess. The painting was commissioned by the regiment to commemorate its contribution to operations in Afghanistan.
Commanding officer, Lt Col Simon Stockley, Royal Engineers, thanked Mr Holland for his ongoing support of the regiment, and also Mr George for the painting.
After the unveiling the servicemen – who returned from Operation Herrick 19 earlier this month – were awarded medals by Brigadier R J Walton-Knight on the parade square.
During his speech, Brig Walton-Knight said: “It was a highly successful tour and real progress had been made. We have taken Operation Herrick in time for the finishing line. You should all stand tall and stand proud.”
Throughout the tour the troops supported 67 operations, providing 24-hour support while also training almost 8,500 allied soldiers in counter Improvised Explosive Device (IED) techniques.
The teams located and destroyed a wide variety of IEDs and recovered explosive material, weapons and ammunition.
Major Ben Day, officer commanding the EOD and Search Group, spoke about the progress he has seen in Afghanistan.
He told the Reporter: “The last time I came back [from Afghanistan] I was not very optimistic when I heard we were coming out. Before there was no police, no army but now they have a very coherent structure.”
Major Day, who will be retiring from the Army and is looking forward to spending more time with his family, added: “It is awesome to be home.
“It is the first time I have been away while I have had family and that made such a difference.
“I have done everything I have wanted to do in the Army. I am now looking for a job where I don’t have to go away for nine months at a time.”