THREE RAF servicemen from Derbyshire are currently deployed on their second operational tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Royal Air Force.
Flight Lieutenant Allan Whitehead 30, Corporal Mark Page, 36, and Senior Aircraftsman (SAC) Ben Cook, 25, all serve on legendary 617 “Dambusters” Sqn based at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland.
Famous for carrying out the raids on the dams of the Ruhr valley during the Second World War, 617 Sqn now operates a fleet of Tornado GR4 ground attack aircraft currently employed in direct support of Afghan and Coalition ground troops as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan.
Flt Lt Whitehead, Engineering Officer on the Sqn said, “Serving on 617 Sqn is an honour and a privilege. This is our second deployment to Afghanistan and we are proud to be here playing such a key role supporting troops on the ground. The support from home has been overwhelming and we are very grateful to everyone.”
In his 16 years of RAF service, propulsion specialist and Line Supervisor, Cpl Page has deployed all over the world including detachments to Germany, Saudi Arabia and Oman. He said: “Family back home send us a Derbyshire Times each week, and we did manage to watch Chesterfield FC win the Johnston’s Paint Trophy. It was a great moment and we are all proud of them.”
Weapons Technician, SAC Cook, 25, a former pupil of Lady Manners School in Bakewell, is responsible for loading and re-arming the many weapons systems and defensive aids on the Tornado aircraft. He said: “it is a real privilege to serve two tours on 617 Sqn. Undoubtedly, one of the highlights was watching Chesterfield lift the cup!”
Allan, Mark and Ben are expected to return to the UK in July where they will be ensuring that the Tornado’s of 617 Sqn are operating at their peak performance.