And it’s goodbye from…
On 13th May RAF Wyton Force Protection Training Flight said a formal goodbye to Sgt Al Turnbull and Cpl Gary Thornton, who between them have clocked up over 50 years service.
Joining the RAF in 1983, Al’s first posting was to No 48 Sqn Rapier in Scotland. Postings that followed included a stint at 501 Tactical Missile Wing, Greenham Common, serving as a CBRN specialist at the FP Centre at Honington and instructing recruits at RAF Halton. Al also spent time in the Belizean Jungle, his ‘exploits’ giving rise to his nickname of ‘Jungle Jim’!
Al can quite literally say he has had the fullest of Service careers, balancing his busy working environment with a successful sports life and volunteering for a number of Service ventures. Heavily involved in RAF Athletics, he represented the RAF in road running and cross country events, managed the RAF Junior Athletics team and run for Bedford and Riverside. He is currently the 39th best runner in the country on the National Ladder for his age group. He has also found time to serve as a Mountain Rescue Volunteer.
FS Steve Clayton, FP Flt said: “Al has been the cornerstone for FP at Brampton and Wyton for the last six years, having also stood in as the Flt Cdr on occasions and taking up Acting FS for two years. He is well known and well respected by all who he has taught and I wish him the very best for the future.”
Joining the RAF in 1991, Gary was posted to No 19 Sqn RAF Regiment which was a Rapier Sqn funded by the US Air Force. Another notable posting was to No 37 Sqn RAF Regiment in Bruggen, Germany. On promotion to Cpl in 2002, he was posted to the Rapier Training Unit, training Army and RAF Rapier personnel. Additionally, he went to Woolwich Barracks as acting Sgt to train the RA in Rapier skills before their posting to the Falklands.
Like Al, Gary has also managed to balance his work commitments and sports life well. His sports successes include representing Regiment Sqns and the RAF at Rugby and Triathlon, finishing his first season in Triathlon as number one in his age group in the British Army Germany Triathlon League. He later completed a full distance Ironman triathlon. Gary has also represented the Station at Powerlifting and cross country running.
FS Clayton said: “Along with Al, Gary has been pivotal in the successful running of the FP Trg Flt over the last four to five years, owing in particular to the major contribution they played in being awarded a Team Commendation, presented to the FP Trg Flt by the Air Officer Commanding in Jan 2012. Their effort in assisting with the section move from Brampton to Wyton last year was especially appreciated. It must be noted that in addition to having both stepped up to acting rank whilst posts have been gapped, both Al and Gary have also turned down offers of promotion.
FS Clayton added: “Unfortunately, I can’t let Gary go without mentioning that in the highest tradition of the RAF Regiment Cpl Thornton was not awarded his Long Service and Good Conduct medal.” Wg Cdr Fashade, CO RAF Wyton HQ who was present to wish the guys well in their future endeavours, said: “It’s a shame Cpl Thornton. You managed the Long Service bit all right, just not the staying out of trouble bit!”