Portland Duo Keep Merlin's Flying In Helman
8:44am 28th August 2012
(Updated 8:47am 28th August 2012)
Two Portland airmen serving in Afghanistan are helping keep helicopters flying in Helmand.
Dedicated RAF engineers Liam Green and Mark Wollage work 12 hour shifts maintaining the machines which are vital to the movement of goods and people.
Liam (25), known as Greeno, joined the RAF in 2007 and has already served in Iraq, USA, France, Cyprus and Japan as well as Afghanistan. He first came to Camp Bastion in 2009 and has noticed a few changes. He said "Camp Bastion has grown so much. The food has improved to the point where it's better than back on base in the UK!"
Greeno is making the most of his time here. A keen runner, he's done a 5K charity run and managed to lose a stone in weight as a result of the hard work and the heat. A former student at Budmouth Technology College in Weymouth, Greeno is now studying for an HND in aeronautical engineering during his down time.
Asked about his achievements on this tour, he said "I think we've all made a difference by helping to keep the helicopters serviceable so that the forward bases can be supplied and troops can be moved by air and not ground - making it safer"
Greeno's colleague Mark (37) has been in the RAF since 1996. A former student at Portland's Royal Manor School, his parent unit is currently Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose. In Afghanistan, he's augmenting 78 Sqn, B Flight and works 12 hour shifts to keep the Merlins flying.
One of the highlights of his current tour was meeting Prime Minister David Cameron when he visited Camp Bastion in July. Mark was part of the team which made a mock 10 Downing Street door, complete with a cut out policeman. Their efforts featured prominently on many front pages the next day!
Asked to describe his experiences of operations in Afghanistan he said " It's hard work in the heat. The engineering programme works round the clock, 365 days a year. We do 12 hour shifts the whole time we are out here"
The Merlin Detachment Commander, Squadron Leader Matt Tandy RAF said "We are totally dependent on our engineers. The heat and the dust is not good for any machine, and all our engineers work long hours in difficult conditions to keep the Merlins serviceable. Their efforts make a real difference every day."