This year is the 70th anniversary of the RAF Regiment, the RAF’s specialist unit that defends airfields. In this blog post Flight Lieutenant Andy Costin tells us why he joined the RAF Regiment.
I enlisted in the RAF in 1983. My father took me to see military aircraft flying when I was young. This interest and curiosity grew over the next few years but then I experienced flight for the first time and never liked it again.
Whereas most boys want to be fighter pilots, I never had that aspiration. Joining the RAF Regiment was my ambition - hot climates, a plethora of weapons and armoured vehicles.
In 28 years of service I have had many experiences, far too many to bore you with but the Regiment has taken me to Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Germany, Falkland Islands, Oman, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The RAF Regiment is a very specialist organisation that has such a varied history in such a short time when compared to much older units. When you read through some of that history it fills me with an immense sense of pride.
The Regiment has earned over twenty battle honours in its 70 years - but one that stands out for me came early in its history.
During the campaign in Burma, Meiktila Airfield was a key location for British forces and was under attack by the Japanese. The airfield became encircled and cut off; the only way of getting supplies in and getting casualties out was by air.
The airfield was continuously fought over for three weeks and it changed hands on a daily basis, often with hand to hand fighting. By day the airfield was controlled by the British and by night the Japanese occupied areas that were then cleared the following morning.
One clearance to allow an aircraft to land took the form of a bayonet charge to push the Japanese back.
This tenacity is a characteristic that runs through the RAF Regiment’s modern day operations in Afghanistan. Regiment gunners have been both killed and injured in Afghanistan.
I have personally seen the work that has been undertaken by the RAF Benevolent Fund to support the families of those who have lost a loved one, or those with life changing injuries.
It's a great reassurance for RAF personnel to know that the RAF Benevolent Fund is there for all, past and present, and a great morale booster to the RAF Regiment when we are away on deployment.
By Andy Costin