Congratulations to the latest members of TG 3-19 Meiktila Flight who have now graduated and can celebrate as they are reunited with their families.
The murky morning was soon forgotten once the Band of the Royal Air Force College was in earshot and the new graduates marched on to the parade square.
Reviewing Officer Group Captain Blythe Crawford said:
“I was delighted to have the opportunity to be the Reviewing Officer for today’s graduation of our latest cohort of RAF Regiment Gunners. This is one of the most gruelling and challenging courses the British military has to offer and it is testament to their dedication and determination that we see so many on the parade square today”
The RAF Regiment Trainee Gunner course is part of a new generation of Trainee Gunners (TGs), who have completed their Phase 1 training at RAF Halton prior to arriving at Training Wing, RAF Honington for 20 weeks of Phase 2 training.
A total of 18 Gunners have now successfully completed training whereby they have learnt basic combat tactics in the Air/Ground Environment, the fundamentals of Air Force Protection, advanced fieldcraft skills and completed further live-fire ranges. The Physical Training programme builds up strength and fitness from Phase 1 training and prepares the recruits for the demanding final exercises.
Alongside her fellow graduates, Leading Aircraftman Georgia Sandover (19) of Kings Lynn, Norfolk, is the first female gunner to join the RAF Regiment. She always knew she wanted to join one of the Services and was inspired by her teacher who happened to be ex-RAF Regiment himself.
Group Captain Crawford added:
“The RAF prides itself on its rich mix of backgrounds, ethnicities, genders and religions and is a leading proponent of diversity and inclusiveness as key attributes of the Next Generation Air Force, where everyone is equal; clearly demonstrated here today by our first female gunner, showing glass ceilings are there for the breaking as she completes one of the most physically and mentally challenging courses we have to offer.”
The RAF was the first Service open to women in all branches and trades following the Prime Minister’s announcement in July 2016 that the tri-Service review into Women in Ground Close Combat had recommended exclusions on women serving in Ground Close Combat roles be lifted with immediate effect. Roles in the RAF Regiment opened to women on 1 September 2017.
Station Commander RAF Honington, Group Captain Matt Radnall said:
“It has been a real privilege today to welcome the latest cohort of trained RAF Regiment gunners into the Corps. This formal ceremony marks the culmination of their specialist training and onward passage to join one of our operational squadrons. The training they have experienced is notable for its physical and mental challenges, and they can all be tremendously proud of their achievement in meeting the high standards expected of RAF gunners in the Ground Close Combat role. Today is particularly special as we celebrate the graduation of our very first female into the RAF Regiment. All of our graduates have earned the right to wear the RAF Regiment ‘mudguard’ on their shoulder and we wish them well for the future as they look forward to a rewarding and exciting career.”
As one of the youngest to graduate, Leading Aircraftman Axel Sawyer (17) of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire said he always wanted to serve his country and is very proud to be graduating. He too is looking forward to the career that awaits him.
Following training and whilst preparing for his well-earned graduation Sawyer said:
“A soldier doesn’t rise to the occasion, he falls to the level of his training.” A quote previously attributed to a former Navy SEAL. Smart words from such a young airman.
Officer Commanding Training Wing, Wing Commander Stephen Turner said:
“I would like to offer my most sincere congratulations to the graduates of Trainee Gunner (TG) course 3-19, Meiktila Flight, on successful completion of RAF Regt specialist training. The TG course commands the highest levels of physical resilience, mental fortitude and teamwork – qualities that are equally essential to success in active service in protection of the RAF, its personnel and its assets. The graduation of the first female RAF Regt gunner marks a significant milestone since the decision to lift exemptions on women serving in Ground Close Combat roles, with all branches and trades in the Service now open to both men and women. All graduates should feel justifiably proud of their achievements and excited about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”
Congratulations to the prize winners of TG Course 3-19:
- The Frank Sylvester Trophy: LAC Fothergill
- The RAF Regiment Association Trophy for Drill & Deportment: LAC Havard
- The WO Ramsey Physical Development Cup: LAC Hodge
- The LAC Beard Recruits’ Trophy: LAC Lambert
- The SAC Luders Champion Shot Trophy: LAC Bayliss
- The Cpl Bradfield Trophy: Cpl Ralfe