COMMANDO HELICOPTER FORCE MERLIN GRADUATION
Fourteen Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) aircrew were awarded their ‘Wings’ and Graduation Certificates in the third and final ceremony to be held at RAF Benson, prior to the Operational Conversion Force (OCF) moving back to RNAS Yeovilton.
The Graduation Ceremony was the culmination of eight months of intense flying training on the Merlin Mk3 for Number 23 Course.
Aircrewmen ‘Wings’ were awarded to ACpl Simon Wynne and LACMN Richard Stock, who were also promoted on the same day. For Lt’s Peter Crease and Thomas Richards, the graduation was the conclusion of many years of arduous flying training.
Also graduating to the Front Line were the majority of personnel forming the Headquarters element for 845 Naval Air Squadron, due to stand-up on the 9th July. These included Commanding Officer 845 NAS (Designate), Cdr Matt Punch MBE and Executive Officer 845 (Designate) Lt Cdr Ed Vaughan.
Commodore R.S Alexander OBE RN, Commanding Officer of RNAS Yeovilton, presented ‘Wings’ and Graduation Certificates to the students. Also receiving their graduation certificates were; Lt Cdr Colin Rex, Lt Cdr Nathan Dale and Lt Oliver Crane.
Aircrewman Wings were awarded to; WOACMN Richard Byrne, CPOACMN Michael Rendall, POACMN Ross Scullion, Cpl Jamie Whitehouse and LACMN Simon Evans.
Lt Cdr John Wilson, Officer Commanding of the OCF said;
“As Officer Commanding of the OCF, I am very proud to have finished this course. Whilst the focus on the day is rightly on the graduating students, the enormous amount of hard work conducted behind the scenes to train them by my team of dedicated instructors should not be overlooked.”
The Operational Conversion Force, currently based in RAF Benson, will be relocating to RNAS Yeovilton on the 13th July. Lt Cdr John Wilson added;
“23 Course is the final Merlin course to be taught wholly at RAF Benson, with the OCF moving to 846 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton as of 13th July. I am relishing the opportunity of taking the ‘Junglie’ OCF back to its spiritual home at Yeovilton, and look forward to the challenge of training the next batch of students on 24 Course.”