DIE HARD ‘PINGER’ RETIRES
An Anti Submarine Warfare Aviator has hung up his flying overalls and helmet after over 38 years in uniform.
Lieutenant Commander Gary Jaggers joined the Royal Navy as a Junior Assistant Catering Accountant (Caterer) in 1977, and completed training at HMS Raleigh before joining the Rothesay Class Frigate HMS Rhyl. It was during his time as a caterer on HMS Rhyl that an unfortunate accounting error forced the ship’s company to significantly increase their vegetable intake, earning him the nickname: “Carrot”.
Enthusiastic to get ahead and encouraged by his Ship’s Captain, Jaggers crossed-over to the Aircrewmen branch at the age of 20, moving to Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose to complete Basic Flying Training on the Wessex Mk 5. Selected as a Sonar Aircrewman (known as ‘Pingers’ because of the Sonar’s distinctive sound) - he joined 737 Naval Air Squadron, his first ‘Pinger’ outfit at RNAS Portland for further training on the Wessex HAS Mk 3, later returning to RNAS Culdrose to complete his Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) training with 706 NAS on the Sea King.
As a Leading Aircrewman (LACMN), Jaggers served with 824 and 826 NAS embarked predominately in Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Ships Olna, Olmeda and Olwen during numerousNorth Atlanticpatrols in the latter stages of the Cold War. Promoted to Petty Officer Aircrewman (POACMN), Jaggers moved once again onto the frontline with 820 NAS embarked on HMS Ark Royal, where he deployed to the Far East,Australiaand the Eastern USA as well as an operational tour of duty on Op Granby in theEastern Mediterranean.
POACMN Jaggers began Officer training atBritanniaRoyalNavalCollege,Dartmouthin 1991, followed by an Observer course at Culdrose on 750 NAS. Appointed to 814 NAS as a newly qualified Sub-Lieutenant, he joined HMS Invincible and saw active service in the Adriatic during Op Grapple off the coast ofBosnia.
A conversion course to Merlin followed in 2000, after which he instructed both airborne and in the newly established Merlin Training Facility (MTF) at 824 NAS. Selected for promotion to Lieutenant Commander in 2001, Jaggers took up an appointment as a dreaded ‘Trapper’ at Naval Flying Standards Flight. During this appointment, Lynx, SKASaC, Junglie, SAR, Squirrel, Jetstream and JHC crews inIraqwere all subjected to his withering gaze.
In 2005 he once again returned to the front line as Senior Observer 820 NAS (A Squadron he last served in as a POACMN) and was appointed Officer in Charge of the MTF in 2009. Completing 4000 flying hours in December 2014, Jaggers, a “Die Hard Pinger”, claims to have safeguardedBritain’s interests from the Submarine menace worldwide.
He completes a naval career of inestimable value in December 2015; a great character and well-respected aviator; he will be sorely missed at RNAS Culdrose, but warmly welcomed at the vineyards ofSouthern France.