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Medics continue brave work as Lyneham base winds down
12:00pm Thursday 9th August 2012 in News
DESPITE the looming closure of RAF Lyneham, the personnel based there continue to travel the world saving lives.
Wroughton has changed dramatically since RAF reservist Cheryl Kelser returned home from her second stint caring for the sick and injured as a front-line aeromedical evacuation nurse in Afghanistan.
Gone are the giant Hercules transport aircraft circling above the village after take-off from RAF Lyneham.
She said: “Suddenly, it’s just so quiet. The Hercs used constantly to fly over my house and I really miss them. It’s almost as though I have lost a friend.” Cheryl, a corporal, will experience further change later this year. The Hercules now operate from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, and her unit, 4626 (County of Wiltshire) Aeronautical Evacuation Squadron, will be making the same move.
The Wiltshire reference in the unit’s title is significant. Since its formation in 1983 – based at RAF Wroughton and then Hullavington before the Lyneham move 18 years ago – 4626 has taken special pride in its county affiliation. Its badge, featuring the motto Tute Domum – Safely Home – includes a Wiltshire wyvern. Hopefully none of that will be lost.
“This is something we are discussing at the moment,” said Wing Commander Marie-Noelle Orzel, the Officer Commanding.
“We are anxious to retain the Wiltshire association and precedent suggests that we will be able to take the protocol with us.” The 4626’s requirement for trained medics – doctors, nurses, paramedics – means relying on NHS personnel.
So, just like Cheryl, a nurse in the intensive care unit at the Great Western Hospital, these are individuals prepared to give up their spare time to serve their country.
Currently, there are 145 on the establishment. The fact that some travel from as far afield as Yorkshire, Kent and Cornwall for training emphasises their commitment .
At any time, between 12 and 16 will be involved in the deployment to Afghanistan, either in tactical and strategic aeromedical roles or as members of a Medical Emergency Response Team. Cheryl celebrated her 49th birthday at Camp Bastion.
“They made me a cake but it turned out to be the most awful day because we lost some lives and were so incredibly busy that it was another three days before I opened my presents,” she said.
Despite that – and the terrifying memory of being under fire while landing at Lashkar Gah – Cheryl says: “I would go back tomorrow and would love to do one more tour before we pull out of Afghanistan.”