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Cdre Alexander and Lt Cdr Mark Baines RNR with Volunteer Reserves Service Medal (VRSM) Clasp
Cdre Alexander and Lt Cdr Mark Baines RNR with Volunteer Reserves Service Medal (VRSM) Clasp
Members of 702 NAS before decommissioning with Cdre Alexander OBE and Lt Cdr Baines RNR

FAA pilot's long service recognised

Published: 07 Sep 2014

ROYAL Naval Reservist receives clasp to Volunteer Reserves Service Medal (VRSM) in recognition of 12½ years of service and also reaches 3500 flying hours in military helicopters. 

Lieutenant Commander (Lt Cdr) Mark Baines joined the Royal Navy in 1983 and following a successful 17 year career as a Commando Sea King and Lynx pilot entered the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) Air Branch on 17 April 2001. He has been awarded the clasp to the VRSM “in recognition of service in the Reserve Forces”. The Medal is awarded after 7½ years, the clasp after a further 5 years. This award is the first clasp to his medal therefore recognising a total 12½ years in the RNR. Qualifying time does not have to be continuous (you can have “gap years”) however Mark’s time has been without a gap! 

Since leaving the Royal Navy Lt Cdr Baines RNR has served continuously on 702 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), now commissioned as 825 NAS, helping with the training of aircrew new to the Lynx helicopter and acting, in accordance with the Air Branch motto, as ‘Experience in Reserve’. He delivers first class instruction and has achieved upward of 30 days consistently every year! 

Lt Cdr Baines RNR said: 

"It has always been a joy to come back to 702 Squadron to fly the Lynx which is so different from my main job but the real pleasure is working with the people. Through 13 years the individuals have changed but they have all made me incredibly welcome. Their professionalism, work ethic and above all their sense of humour has remained a constant in an otherwise fast changing Service environment. I can probably sum it up with the phrase: If it wasn't fun, I wouldn't do it!” 

Currently working in the airline industry for Virgin Atlantic where he flies the Airbus A330 and A340 Lt Cdr Baines has maintained his skills as an excellent instructor. He brings his experiences both from his time in the Royal Navy and outside to improve the student’s knowledge and assist them in passing the demanding Lynx Mk8 course. 

12½ years may not sound a lot for a “long distance” medal, however reality is that the average RNR “Career” in the Fleet Air Arm Reserve is 6-7 years:. Married with three sons and living in Florida provides a challenge but has not stopped Lt Cdr Baines unstinting service to his branch at RNAS Yeovilton.; not a straightforward commitment considering logistics and his current job, however easy Mark may makes it look.


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