German Honour for Army Air Corps
Officers and soldiers from 1 Regiment Army Air Corps (1AAC), based at the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton in Somerset, were presented with the highest honour that can be bestowed on an Allied unit by the Federal Republic of Germany at a parade on 24 November 2015.
The Fahnenband, a Ribbon of Honour made of silk in the German national colours, was presented to the Regiment by Brigadier General Martin Hein, the Defence Attaché at the German Embassy in London for their dedicated work in Germany and was received by Major Stuart Hughes, the Regiment’s Second in Command.
Brigadier General Hein addressed the Regiment thanking them for their service in his country. He said:
“This bond has grown between us and will never be broken. As a mark of special respect and deep gratitude, it is now my great pleasure to present to you the Fahnenband – Ribbon of Honour – here at your new base, your new home. The Ribbon of Honour of the Federal Republic of Germany is the highest decoration that can be awarded to a foreign unit. This award is a symbol of Germany’s deep gratitude and appreciation for all you have done in and on behalf of the Federal republic of Germany.”
Whilst music was provided by the Band of The Rifles, Brigadier General Hein inspected the soldiers on parade, taking time to speak to each individually about their experiences of serving in Germany before taking the opportunity to have a closer look at the Army Air Corps newest helicopter, the Wildcat Attack Helicopter Mk1.
After the presentation, Brigadier General Hein said:
“Coming over from London as the German Defence Attaché for this presentation has been a great privilege, to see the service members of 1 Regiment AAC on parade today and receiving this great honour which my country expresses with handing over the Fahnenband. I am very much looking forward to the continued close cooperation between our two nations and our Forces.”
Colonel Mike Smith, Commander of the Aviation Reconnaissance Force, said:
“1 Regiment is pushing hard as it transitions to Wildcat. As a result, the pace of life has been frenetic since it returned from Germany, with so much time spent looking forward that opportunities to pause – once in a while – to reflect on the past are few and far between. Today is one such moment. 1 Regiment’s history is uniquely entwined with its time in Germany, a partnership that was positive, productive and profound. Put simply, everybody who served with 1 Regiment in Germany misses it, and every tale includes the immortal lines: those were the days.
I too have fond memories of serving with 1 Regiment in Germany and so it is a privilege to be present as 1 Regiment accepts the Fahnenband from Brigadier General Hein. This is an honour gratefully received, expressing a sentiment that is absolutely mutual.”
Major Stuart Hughes said:
“Today has been a significant occasion in the history of 1 Regiment Army Air Corps. It is an honour to receive such a prestigious award of gratitude and appreciation from the German people and demonstrates the very strong bond our two nations share.”
Lance Corporal Matthew Vella said: “I joined the Army Air Corps when the Regiment was in Gutersloh, it was a busy time as we were in high demand for exercises and tours, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Germany. It is a great honour for us to receive the Fahnenband from Brigadier General Hein.”
1AAC are now looking ahead to 661 Squadron AAC completing their Conversion To Role training in January 2016 and their first overseas deployments with the Wildcat AH Mk1.