Alex Ford is an RAF sergeant who is currently deployed on the Afghan frontline, and has been blogging about his experiences in the field. Today, to mark Battle of Britain Day, Alex has written this guest blog from Afghanistan.
The aircraft sits and waits. The crew is taking a few moments to catch a few rays of sun. Suddenly there is a message. The crews run to their aircraft and take to the sky.
An evocative image. One that could be seen at an airfield in 1940, with the aircraft being RAF Spitfires. But it's also one that could be taking place today, in Afghanistan, with the aircraft being an RAF Chinook acting as a Medical Evacuation Response Team flight, or MERT.
Out here in Afghanistan I am constantly reminded of the work that other members of the RAF do.
The flight of the MERT is just one example of the hard work and dedication of everyone out here. From moving people around in helicopters, or providing a show of force by a Tornado in the air, through to providing handlers for counter IED dogs on the ground, each one of us plays a part in the effort out here. Each one continues in the spirit of those who have gone before.
Times change. Wars change. The Spitfires and Lancasters of the Second World War have been replaced by Tornados and Chinooks. But the people fighting in them stay the same. They are just ordinary people who do extra-ordinary things.
Eventually their wars end and they go home. Some to calm and peace. Some to chaos and problems. And when those airmen find themselves in difficulty there is always the RAF Benevolent Fund to help them. They help people deal with acute stress caused by war, through to helping a family with housing problems, to supporting someone affected by a disability. The RAF Benevolent Fund is always there to help, and it will always continue to help.
But to do so it needs your support. Airmen today fight many wars. They fight in the air, and they fight on the ground. They fight far away, and they fight at home. Some of the fights are against a seen and known enemy. Some are against an unseen, unknown, but just as dangerous enemy.
Problems beset all of us. But thankfully the RAF Benevolent Fund is there for the men and women of the RAF when they are in trouble. Help them to help those of us who are in need. Whatever that need may be.
By Alex Ford