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Our Daughter’s turn to Go

by Colin Campbell “Another example of parents having to let go – Only I didn’t expect it to feel like this…” S

he had joined the Royal Air Force: I knew about the RAF; I had been in

it for 44 years, so in spite of my love for it I also knew it could serve a curved ball, but that went with the territory.

The 4626 Aero-Med-Evac Reserve Sqn seemed to ideally fit her NHS specialisation

in ITU so it seemed logical that after all the basic training, she should end up eventually flying the routes, collecting and delivering those in need of care. She applied to be deployed. No surprise there. After all the training there is the need to push to the next level and satisfy the, “I’ve done it!”

It was a strange reversal of the situation that my parents must have been in when, as a 20 something cpl in the 60’s, I was sent to Aden and Malaya; now our daughter was going to Camp Bastion – a place in the news, almost daily, for all the wrong reasons. However, we kept up with the news and the military situation and knew that Bastion was a huge place and the hospital would be a secure location. It meant reading between the lines to try and detect what hadn’t been said, or what was said that might be a PR escape line.

4626 Admin provided us with a pack that explained the background support that was available and contact numbers for questions and enquiries. This was backed up by personal contact from the flt cdr, so we did have confidence that what the paperwork said actually existed.

What then really did surprise us was that Gemma was to deploy as part of an Army movement order. This meant she would join them for immediate pre-deployment training. Now the Army move as a horde with a specialisation of waiting at speed – it took 4 days to get from South Cerney to Brize Norton. On the other hand the RAF travel as a person – not that waiting around doesn’t occur, but it doesn’t happen by numbers!

A quick phone call to say she was off – this was the moment of reversal – I was the one left at home this time; it was another example of the parents having to let go, only I didn’t expect it to feel like this. Mother worried. I pictured nodding heads in coaches and in the departure lounge at Brize.

Once deployed, the single most important aspect was communications. The WelCome communications service proved to be a really high quality package, enabling good clear speech from theatre to our home telephone. This with the emails and the e-Bluey service meant we were always in touch. In the ‘60s overseas communications were limited to normal

16 Envoy Spring 2013

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