Royal Air Force personnel who took part in Operation PITTING to evacuate personnel from Afghanistan have today been honoured in a medal presentation ceremony.
A parade that took place at RAF Brize Norton saw personnel from across the RAF presented with the Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan with the Operation PITTING clasp for their involvement in last years operation which saw more than 15,000 personnel evacuated in just over 2 weeks.
Operation PITTING was the largest humanitarian aid operation in over 70 years, evacuating thousands of Afghans and British nationals from Kabul Airport as the Taliban seized control of the country. RAF personnel and aircraft played a pivotal role in the operation, working around the clock the RAF flew 260,000 miles, making some 330 flights, and at one point airlifting 1,000 people a day to safety in the United Kingdom, where they were welcomed at RAF Brize Norton. The RAF also completed a record-breaking flight, with a passenger number of 439 onboard a C-17 Globemaster.
"I feel incredibly honoured to be presenting these medals today. I recall watching the events unfolding from afar and have great admiration for the personnel from all three Services who deployed on this extremely challenging Operation. The work of the RAF to evacuate so many desperate people in such a short time I find inspirational and I am certain everyone involved in Operation PITTING feels the utmost pride in what they achieved."
Mr Brian Buchan
Vice Lord-Lieutenant for Oxfordshire
Alongside the pilots and aircrew, the RAF deployed personnel from the Air Mobility Wing, responsible for returning equipment and loading all the passengers from Kabul, Force protection personnel from the RAF Police and aviation security specialists from the RAF Regiment, to process evacuees and provide security for the aircraft. Tactical Medical Wing also based at RAF Brize Norton deployed to provide specialist medical support to those evacuating.
"It is a great privilege to be here today to formally recognise the efforts of our personnel during Operation PITTING and I am enormously proud to be awarding these medals. It was an extraordinary effort in extremely difficult circumstances which demonstrated the best of the RAF. We evacuated 15000 people in the largest humanitarian aid operation in the last 70 years and everyone should be immensely proud of what was achieved."
Air Vice-Marshal Suraya Marshall
Air Officer Commanding Number 2 Group
"I am very proud and it's a fitting day that recognises the service and sacrifice from not only the people that served but the sacrifices that their families make as their support allow us to do our job."
Wing Commander Bailey
Officer Commanding LXX Squadron
Although Operation PITTING has ended, the Ministry of Defence continues to support the relocation of vulnerable Afghans, the RAF has been flying entitled people from neighbouring countries to enable their resettlement.