The Duke of York was in Moray yesterday to pay tribute to the bravery of RAF personnel recently returned from Afghanistan.
Hundreds of onlookers applauded and cheered as 130 members of 5 Force Protection Wing marched through Elgin town centre during the homecoming parade.
The personnel, many of whom returned to their base at RAF Lossiemouth last Saturday, were saluted by Prince Andrew outside St Giles’ Church.
He then presented operational service medals for deployment on Operation Herrick as well as individual awards.
The Duke, who is the Honorary Air Commodore of the Moray base, spoke of his pride at being invited to the occasion.
He said: “It gives me great pleasure to present the campaign medals to you. You have served and continue to serve your country with exemplary dedication and commitment.”
The personnel were led along the High Street by the military band of the 2622 Highland Squadron.
As they came to halt on the Plainstones, a Tornado jet flew overhead.
Among the large crowd of well-wishers lining the route was Becky Bowden and her son Robson, 3.
Her husband, Flight Lieutenant Mark Bowden, was personally presented with the Roberts Leadership Trophy by the Duke.
The trophy is awarded annually to the RAF Regiment junior officer who has demonstrated the most outstanding leadership.
Mrs Bowden, whose husband is a veteran of two tours of duty in Afghanistan and three to Iraq, said: “It’s great to have him home safe and sound.
“Fingers crossed, this is the last tour of duty he will have to do.”
RAF Lossiemouth station commander, Group Captain Mark Chappell, said: “The wing should be immensely proud of their efforts to defend Camp Bastion.
“A special mention should also be paid to 51 Squadron RAF Regiment for being awarded the Higginson Trophy, which is given annually to the squadron that has demonstrated the greatest overall excellence. This parade highlighted the positive relationship the station has with the community.”
The homecoming parade was the second time in three months that the Duke has honoured RAF Lossiemouth.
In March, he witnessed the disbandment of 617 “Dambusters” Squadron.
Photos probe, Page 18
Comment, Page 32