For RAF personnel any time overseas means difficult time away from loved ones – even more so at Christmastime. In this guest blog, Giles describes what life is like when deployed on operations over the festive season.
My name is Giles and I am currently deployed with the Royal Air Force in the Middle East. I deployed towards the back end of October 15 on a six-month operational tour.
My role encompasses all facets of life on base from ensuring personnel get paid to organising events over Christmas and I lead a team of six highly motivated service personnel. But most importantly of all I leave behind a loving wife and two beautiful girls who I miss very much, there is not a minute that goes by that I don't think about them.
With Christmas fast approaching, it is my role along with the Welfare Committee, which is made up of keen junior ranks, to ensure that everyone gets into the festive spirit.
Of course Christmas is a time to be with your family and loved ones and conjures up thoughts of log fires, over indulgence, parties and possibly even snow! Sadly, apart from eating loads, these are all things that cannot be replicated out on operations and of course there is always a job to do, so not only will service personnel be away from loved ones but they will also be working!
To overcome this we are currently decorating the camp with tinsel and baubles and turning one of the palm trees into a Christmas tree, we've even decorated the fish pond!
To keep the team busy we've planned a number of excursions, which include a trip to the beach and camel riding to name but a few. On Christmas Eve there will be a carol service. Then on Christmas morning there will be another service led by the Padre.
Following this we plan to have a festive Christmas lunch with all the trimmings, pigs in blankets, crackers, the lot! After lunch, if we can still move there will be a volleyball tournament followed by, yes of course, more food! Then the day will be finished off by a festive themed quiz.
My main aim is the keep the guys and girls busy over Christmas and hopefully we'll have some fun along the way. Of course I will never be able to replicate a family Christmas and speaking from a personal standpoint, I will desperately miss my family, the hugs and kisses and watching the girls open their presents and the shock and delight on their faces. I think Skype will be working over time! That said, we have a good plan in place; I just need to find a volunteer to act as Father Christmas, I wonder if the CO (Commanding Officer) would look good in red!