ACA Woking News by Bill Bawden, PRO

20 January 2009

Helicopters in Afghanistan

Group Captain Richard Mason OBE MA RAF

Flt Sgt Anna Hooley and Sgt Neal Lyon

The Station Commander at RAF Odiham, Group Captain Richard Mason OBE, visited Fairoaks Aerodrome to give an illustrated talk to a packed audience of AirCrew Association members and their guests.

Gp Capt Mason had previously commanded 18 Squadron, one of the Chinook helicopter units based at Odiham and engaged in rotating deployments to southern Afghanistan. He showed film clips and photographs of both planned operations to transport troops and supplies within the war zone and reactive sorties to support the ground forces and evacuate casualties. In this last role the work of the medical staff and crew members in attending the wounded was deserving of the highest praise. One series of photographs showed the damage sustained from a Taliban ground-launched missile that passed through the Chinook's fuselage and removed part of a rotor without, miraculously, exploding.

In his accompanying narration Gp Capt Mason vividly described the operations carried out by these workhorses of the air and their crews, both in the air and on the ground, under the most difficult of conditions. His audience, which included many veterans of earlier conflicts, all expressed their great admiration for the professionalism and devotion to duty of their worthy successors in today's RAF Helicopter Force.

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