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Falklands' RAF gunners monument unveiled in Honington

Saturday, December 8th 2007 - 20:00 UTC
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A former head of the RAF said he hoped air force gunners would get the credit they deserved after unveiling a monument in Honington to commemorate their contribution in the Falklands Islands, reports the East Anglia Daily Times.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns paid tribute to the work of ground fighting RAF Regiment members across the world as he officially uncovered a stone memorial at its headquarters in Suffolk. The former chief of air staff, who is now honorary air commodore of the regiment, based at RAF Honington, near Thetford, said he hoped that the air force's contribution in the Falklands 25 years ago and its continued presence today would never be forgotten. Sir Richard, who is now governor of Windsor Castle, was joined by Falklands' veterans and serving RAF gunners from 1 and 2 Squadrons, who have been performing forces protection roles in Iraq and Afghanistan this year, for a service to mark the unveiling of the Black Eagle Monument at Honington. The memorial, which uses the black eagle emblem of the 63 Squadron RAF Regiment that operated Rapier surface-to-air missiles during the liberation and defense of the Islands a quarter of a century ago, is an exact replica of one that was erected at the former RAF Stanley airbase in the Falklands in November 1983. Sir Richard said it was a "privilege" to have been commander of 63 Squadron, which served at short notice in the Falklands between May and September 1982 and was the last ground operational unit involved in the conflict to return home. "This monument is very, very important not just for 63 Squadron, but to all the people over the last 24-and-a-half years who have manned the air defenses there. People understandably focus on Afghanistan and Iraq and forget about the Falklands Islands and the fact that British forces are still serving there. "I think that the RAF Regiment's contribution has never received the credit that is due and this will serve as an inspiration for future airmen and gunners," he said. Retired wing commander of 63 Squadron, Ian Loughborough, who brought home all of his gunners from the Falklands, said it was "brilliant" to see former colleagues again and that the regiment was being commemorated.

Categories: Politics, Falkland Islands.

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