You probably know Sergeant Alex Ford as the RAF airman blogger. In this guest blog for Father's Day, Alex tells us about being part of the RAF family.
My watch is broken. My 'everyday' watch as I call it. The one I wear to work and the gym. It's stopped. The battery is dead. This means that I am, until that everyday watch is fixed, wearing my 'posh' watch.
It's a 1968 Omega Seamaster Automatic. It was my father's. The night he died I put it on and wore it until I realised I was over-wearing it and got an 'everyday' watch and left his for BEST only.
For times when I would want him around. Times when I would want him to be there and see what I am doing. I wear it every year when my brothers and sisters gather just before Christmas.
I wore it the day I was given my sergeant's rank tabs by my old squadron leader. I wore it when I was last on parade. I wore it when I was given my Afghan Medal.
And I wore it the other night to the sergeants' mess summer ball. I wore it because he would have loved to have been there. And with me wearing it, he was there. He'd have been at home there anyway; he'd been there before me.
You see he was also in the RAF. He was also a sergeant and he left the RAF after 22 years service. He was incredibly proud of being in the Service, as I am. It's the being part of something bigger than yourself. The being proud to be a part of something. Like being proud to be part of a family.
Family. No matter what, your family is always there – even when they are gone. Your family will always be about you, always there.
And even if you move away, move on, live on after family die...you will still be a part of that family. And they will always be there – even if just in your mind and memory, there to remind you of what went before, to offer help, advice, support.
Being in the RAF for the last 25 years has been like being part of a family, and it's good to know that even though I am leaving the RAF, I will always be part of that RAF family. And the family of the RAF will always be there for me. As stories, as anecdotes, as memories.
And I know that the RAF Benevolent Fund, as a faithful part of the RAF family, will be there too. Who knows what the future may bring, but the Fund will be there to help.
And like the watch on my arm it will always remind me of something bigger, something better.
Even though he is gone, wearing his watch reminds me of my father who was there to offer help, advice, support; the RAF Benevolent Fund is the same, there to offer help, advice, support.
The Fund has already helped my family. Not directly, but each day in a tiny way. Each day, by visiting the Airplay park at the end of our road my three year old daughter benefits from the generosity, help and support that the Fund has offered...and the Fund will keep on supporting the RAF family.
In just a few days the RAF Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park will open. This will honour and remember all the 55,573 members of the World War II Bomber Command who died in the course of freeing the world from tyranny.
Finally they will get the memorial that they deserve, and this memorial will be maintained by the RAF Benevolent Fund. With your support the memorial will be there to remind future generations of the sacrifice of 'The Many'. With the Fund's help it will always be there.
From helping my daughter to have fun, to preserving her heritage the RAF Benevolent Fund helps her. It helps me. It helped my father. As a family does. It helps it own.
Dad, I'm wearing your watch today, not because I have to because my other watch is broken, but because even though you are gone, with that on my wrist, you are still around. Happy Father's Day Dad.