SAC Boon on Op Herrick 15/16
I am a movements operator with 4624 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force and I have recently returned from a three and a half month tour in Camp Bastion. Myself and 5 others from the Squadron deployed with A Flight, 1 Air Mobility Wing (1 AMW) in February 2012 and formed the air movements element of the Joint Movements Unit at Camp Bastion. I worked on one of the three traffic teams which are responsible for physically loading and unloading the aircraft with anything from troops to helicopters. The work was physically demanding, especially bearing in mind that I work as an accountant in civvy street and spend my days sat at a desk looking at spreadsheets!
Arriving at Camp Bastion was a shock to the system as it is hard to imagine what it is going to be like before you actually get there. Our pre-deployment training was largely trade focussed so it took a bit of time to get used to the routine of living and working on a large military base. After a couple of weeks, though, I felt totally at home. The regulars from 1 AMW were fantastic and made the reservist contingent feel very much part of the team which was great.
We worked 12 hour shifts and rotated between days and nights. On balance I think I enjoyed the night shift more but I was always grateful to see the sun when my turn on the day shift came round. It was not too hot during our tour and the heat only really became intense during our final few weeks. The work on traffic is quite varied, involving restraining loads on the aircraft, driving various vehicles to get the loads to and from the aircraft and a fair amount of baggage stacking! My favourite job was driving the rough terrain fork lift truck – it is the size of a tractor and great fun to drive.
I was fortunate in that during my time at Bastion, the Indirect Fire Alarm was only sounded once and I believe that it was a false alarm, although I did not know that at the time. Security concerns meant we had to carry our rifles at all times when not on the airfield but we never had to fire our weapons. Life at Camp Bastion is safe compared to forward operating bases and checkpoints and I was grateful for that. All the movers had to do at least one guard duty during the tour and I found myself in a tower on the perimeter fence for 24 hours with three soldiers from the Royal Logistic Corps. It was the only opportunity I had to see the country which existed outside the wire and I found it very interesting.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time at Camp Bastion because it was a total break from the norm and I deployed with a great group of people. It was still wonderful to return home at the end of May and to see my friends and family. I have now been back at work in my civilian job for almost a month. It was initially strange returning to the office but my colleagues have been fantastic, making me feel very welcome and helping me to settle back in.
For more information on joining 4624 Movements squadron RAuxAF tel 01993 897262 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org