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RAF family: the best friends in the world

This Valentine's Day we are focusing on the partners of RAF personnel – the unsung stalwarts of the RAF family. Karen Nunns is married to an RAF technician, Jon. Karen tells us more.

When I told my friends and family that I was leaving Newcastle all those years ago to marry someone in the RAF, all of them said the same thing. Are you sure you’re doing the right thing? Won’t you miss home? Won’t you miss your mam? Your family? Your friends?

Not one of them said you will make some fantastic best friends, like nothing you will experience on civvy street, as unlike civvy street we really are all in this together.

Karen Nunns

I met Jon when he was in trade training at Cosford. My brother was also in the RAF and going through the same trade training. One day he rang me and asked if he could come and stay for a weekend with us, as our mam was in the middle of moving house and he did not want to get in her way.

Also he would be bringing a few friends with him. Some of the lads on my brother’s course had heard what a good night out Newcastle was and wanted to experience it. They were visiting each others’ home towns over the course period.

That's when my brother Paul told me he had found me a husband! The best lad you could ever meet and he knew we would hit it off. So up they came and what a fantastic weekend we all had. As for my brother’s version of a perfect husband… well he is perfect. Unfortunately for many years my brother claimed I owed him a wife.

The good things about the RAF have to be the sense of community and the sense that you’re contributing to the bigger picture. The bad point is of course the time away, but it also makes you appreciate them.

I always feel a little lost and lonely without Jon. Naturally I worry about him but that does not help the children, Jon or myself so we keep it normal and upbeat and always say see you in a week no matter how long he is gone for. Jon has been deployed previously to Iraq over Christmas in 2008 and is currently deployed to Afghanistan. He left in December and he is not due to return until March.

When Jon returns from deployment I always feel so tired, like I can finally relax and sleep properly. We are always so pleased and happy to have him home. It is like the weight of the world has just been lifted.  I still don’t understand how the children can be monsters for three months and then angels the minute Daddy is home!

I feel an immense sense of pride in everything Jon does. One day it really hit me when we were posted to Prestwick on search and rescue. We were walking down the street on a normal day and a Sea King flew over our heads on the way out to sea on a rescue and we both looked up at the aircraft.

Jon squeezed my hand and said "I did that, I helped to get that aircraft flying." I had a huge lump in my throat. To me it is amazing: he is an aircraft engineer and he helped get that Sea King in the air to rescue a stranger who will never know Jon even existed.

Another occasion we were out with the children for the day and a pregnant lady collapsed. Jon sprang into action with his first aid skills. I have never seen a father-to-be look so relieved!

We don't have any plans for Valentine's Day as Jon will still be in Afghanistan, but I am sure we will do something when he gets home.

By Karen Nunns

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