Half way gone – time for Haribo!
We are now five weeks into our tour of duty out here in Afghanistan and we have reached our half way point. The Chinook Force has been busy extracting 16 Air Assault Brigade from the FOB’s (Forward Operating Bases) and inserting 3 Commando Brigade ready to undertake the roles of their predecessors. The flying has been steady; however, as the heat rises out here, inevitably so will the tempo of operations.
We have been in high spirits though throughout and have even had a few “lucky “ individuals who have celebrated their birthdays out here which is always good for morale as nothing beats a good celebration like a can of pop and a packet of Haribo as a substitute birthday meal! The birthday boys even had a couple of the crewmen use their culinary skills and produce possibly the most calorific birthday cake any of them had ever seen, which in a single mouthful had the potential to undo four weeks of gym work!
We have also had good cause for other forms of celebration too as Master Aircrewman Bob Ruffles cruised through his 7000 hour rotary barrier and Flight Sergeant Phil Waddington achieved the admirable feat of 6000 rotary hours a couple of weeks ago. Together they have amassed roughly just short of 500 hours than that of the entire flight of crewmen out here on 27 Sqn B Flt put together! Again, a completely justified cause to break out the Haribo!
Although we have been busy performing our flying duties, due to the expansive infrastructure life has become much more comfortable than on previous tours of duty out here. We are now accommodated in prefabricated buildings as opposed to the tented accommodation that we were in last year which makes a huge difference to our fatigue levels. The gym is practically on our doorstep and we have even managed to create a “friendly competition” gym board, which is laden with an array of physical challenges including a 10K run, a 5K row and a “Hang Tough” challenge, which although most of B Flt are adept to clinging to a bar for dear life albeit usually at the end of happy hour on a Friday night, this exercise is somewhat more difficult! Ironically the friendly nature of this board has fuelled competitive streaks no end and pushed physical standards to a whole new level just to better the scores than that of the next guy! (Some of us have even managed to not only locate our trainers but even put them on, even if it is just to go in search for more Haribo….).
We have all settled into our roles out here now and the Chinook Force is still striving to provide as good a service to the troops on the ground as we can. This has been aided hugely by our 1310 Flt engineers who work relentlessly around the clock to ensure the timely delivery of our aircraft. It is quite easy to attribute the job that Chinooks are doing out here solely to the guys that fly them, however, the reality is that the fact that we get airborne at all is predominantly down to our very modest engineering flight who deserve just as much praise for the job that they do over here as anyone else.
We are looking forward to what the next month has install for us, morale is good within 1310 Flt and we are ready to undertake whatever challenges we are set. Our Immediate Response Team is on 24 hour standby and ready to launch at a moment’s notice. We have created a fine balance between working hard and playing hard and continue to strive to maintain the utmost professionalism and dedication that our troops on the ground deserve.