RAF Air Cadets News

Former Air Cadet now in the US Navy visits her old squadron

A former RAF Air Cadet who is now serving in the US Navy chose her old squadron as the venue for her promotion, and also talked to cadets there about life in the military and the opportunities it offers. 

Lieutenant Commander Michelle Tucker returned to her roots at 2417 (Newmarket) Squadron in Beds and Cambs Wg for the ceremony and also to hand out certificates and badges to cadets. Lieutenant Commander Tucker, has been in the US Navy for 16 years and is now assigned to NATO Allied Maritime Command. 

My time as an Air Cadet helped make me who I am today. It taught me discipline, gave me a sense of purpose, taught me so many skills, and drove my passion for military service. Being promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander is a real honour and as I thought about where and how I wanted to conduct the ceremony, I immediately thought of my old Air Cadet squadron and how fitting it would be to return to where my love for military service began. It was also the first time my Dad has been able to attend something like this in person, so to do it in my hometown among family and friends was really special. Revisiting the squadron is always emotional for me because I spent so much time there with so many great memories.

Lieutenant Commander Tucker said she always try to visit the squadron when she returns home. 

I have so many fond memories at Air Cadets. Some stand-out moments are my first air experience flight in a Chipmunk when I got to experience my first loop-the-loop and barrel roll; my first time shooting a .22 rifle and earning my marksmanship qualification; and lugging around a heavy backpack through the hills of Llanbedr during a cadet camp; but the friendships I made while I was a cadet are the best part about it and have truly lasted a lifetime.

She described how she first became and Air Cadet when a school friend asked her if she wanted to go along. 

Although my Dad, Arthur Turner, was also an Air Cadet, I didn’t know anything about it. I thought I’d give it a go — little did I know it would change the trajectory of my life. I loved every minute of it and if I had the chance, I’d do it all over again. To anyone thinking about joining Air Cadets I would say absolutely do it. The opportunities it provides are unmatched, regardless of whether you think you will serve in the armed forces or not. The memories and friendships you will forge will last a lifetime.

Lieutenant Commander Tucker

After leaving the Air Cadets as a Warrant Officer, Lieutenant Commander Tucker moved to the USA through marriage and then gained citizenship. 

Her awards in the US Navy include a Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Commendations Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal (seven awards) and various unit and service awards. She has also flown with the Blue Angels, has taken off and landed on an aircraft carrier in the back seat of a jet, parachuted with the Navy Seals and has sailed in a submarine. 

2417 (Newmarket) Squadron OC Flight Lieutenant Peter Norton said the night had been a great success. 

It was a fabulous night. The cadets were nervous as you'd expect but buzzing and were really pleased to get their badges and certificates from someone other than me, real officers in flash white uniforms! A few of Michelle’s former cadet mates were there, including one whose son is a current cadet, which shows the circle of life.

OC Flight Lieutenant Peter Norton
2417 (Newmarket) Squadron

The promotion ceremony was conducted by Commander Carpenter – with Captain Chozos of the Hellenic Navy also in attendance. Following chocolate cake, three Trained Shot badges were presented to Cadets Cameron, Wallis and Humphreys, two Blue DofE badges to Cadets Gray and Butcher and five First Class Cadet badges to Cadets Cameron, Humphreys, Russell, Abbott and Warren.