Culdrose Commander Recognised for Outstanding Performance
Commander Ross Spooner, Commanding Officer of 820 Naval Air Squadron has been recognised in the Queen’s New Years Honours List for his ‘outstanding performance’ and for demonstrating leadership of the highest order.” A well liked and respected aviator, Commander Spooner has been appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
The letter informing Commander Spooner of his honour states: “Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to appoint you as an Officer in the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of theBritish Empirein recognition of your outstanding performance as the Commanding Officer of 820 Naval Air Squadron.
With both engineering and flying specialisations under his belt, Commander Spooner has served on a broad range of operations in a variety of theatres including Sierra Leone and the Gulf - both of which he has returned to this year as Commanding Officer of 820 Squadron.
This year has been particularly challenging for 820 Naval Air Squadron. With half of his squadron deployed to operations in the gulf, thousands of miles away, Commander Spooner led the other half of his team in the battle against Ebola inSierra Leone.
The citation says “…against a background of high operational tempo, with your team contributing concurrently to two disparate operations separated by thousands of miles, your dedication and energy have been remarkable. The success of one element of the Squadron embarked in RFA Argus providing support to the humanitarian aid mission inSierra Leone, whilst another made a telling contribution to operations in the strategically important Gulf region is in no small part through your own tireless efforts. ….. Your selfless endeavours have been exceptional.”
820 Naval Air Squadron deployed at very short notice toSierra Leoneand were away for a total of six months. As well as flying 300 sorties, delivering much needed aid to the communities ofWest Africa, they also managed to raise a large amount of money for the ‘EducAid’ charity.
During the mission, the team supported the construction of six Ebola Treatment Centres by delivering much needed stores, people and medical supplies to inaccessible areas.
Another success was the delivery of food relief to the isolatedSherbroIslandswhich had been cut off from the mainland due to strict infection control laws - subsequently the inhabitants were facing starvation. Over two days, the 820 team delivered in excess of 200 tonnes of food aid by flying over 100 under slung load missions. As a result enough food aid was provided to feed the 16,000 inhabitants for over a month.
Commander Spooner, who has only just returned from operations in the Gulf said: “I am absolutely humbled to receive this recognition. Having enjoyed a phenomenally varied career in the Fleet Air Arm, the last two years in Command of 820 NAS have been the very best. Everything that the Squadron achieved has been down to the professionalism, dedication and sheer hard work of everyone on the team. Just as important has been the huge support we have all received from families and friends back home. I stand in awe at the phenomenal quality of our people and their families.”
He is justifiably full of pride for his team, and added: “Every single person deployed, either currently in the Gulf, or earlier in the year toSierra Leone, should be incredibly proud of what they have individually contributed. It is a real team effort. I will never forget our task inSierra Leone– it was an incredibly demanding deployment, but there was a real sense that we had made a hugely positive impact on so many people’s lives inWest Africa.”
Although born in Leicester, Commander Spooner completed his education at Helston Comprehensive inCornwallbefore joining the Royal Navy as an Air Engineering Artificer in 1987.
After becoming an Officer, Commander Spooner went on to read Aeronautical Engineering at theRoyalNavalEngineeringCollegeand was then selected for Test Pilot training. Completing his Certificate of Competence as an Air Engineer Officer in 1997, he subsequently gained his Wings in 2000. He has also been a test pilot for all marks of Sea King and Merlin helicopters.
Commander Spooner lives inFalmouthwith his wife Samantha and daughter Emily.