Medals For Culdrose Aviators Who Helped To Tackle Ebola
Naval aviators from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose who helped to stem the tide of Ebola in Sierra Leone will receive a medal honouring their efforts, it has been announced.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said more than 3,000 Britons answered the call to help deal with the outbreak of the disease inWest Africa“at considerable risk” and the nation owed them “a debt of gratitude”.
Cases of Ebola dropped tenfold inSierra Leoneduring the five-month mission by RFA Argus, her Merlin helicopters, surgeons and nurses, plus Royal Marines Commandos. Three Merlin helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron from Culdrose flew 294 sorties in support of Operation Gritrock, codename for the UK Armed Forces’ response to the outbreak. The 820 team, were also joined by personnel from the Maritime Aviation Support Force (MASF), also based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose.
The Culdrose team flew supplies and aid throughoutSierra Leone, while Commandos from 1 Assault Group Royal Marines did the same in coastal regions (they also provided force protection). RFA Argus’ impressive medical facilities were not used to treat Ebola victims – that fell to centres ashore. But personnel did provide blood to support the fight against the disease and were on hand to provide non-Ebola treatment for more than 400 Britons involved in the aid operation.
Captain Adrian Orchard OBE, Commanding Officer of Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose said: "The announcement made by the Prime Minister that Aviators, Engineers and Sailors from RNAS Culdrose will be recognised for their efforts in West Africa is excellent news. Over a six month period, our team and their helicopters delivered vital equipment, supplies and food packages to remote areas ofSierra Leone. I am very proud of their direct contribution in the fight against Ebola, but particularly in the way their professional approach to the task provided such a tangible and reassuring sight to the people ofSierra Leone. Tasked at very short notice, many personnel spent the full six months deployed on this humanitarian mission. Without their efforts, it would have been much more difficult for those on the ground to build Ebola Treatment Centres and 'Command' points. Ever in demand, 820 Naval Air Squadron are now deployed on Operations in the Gulf, proving the versatility of the personnel and their Merlin helicopters."
The medal will be awarded to both military and civilians who took up the fight against Ebola. More than 3,000 people are thought to be eligible for the medal, which will feature a flame on a background depicting the virus and the words ‘For Service: Ebola Epidemic West Africa’.
The first decorations will be issued this summer with Mr Cameron due to invite some of the recipients to a reception.