RAF Henlow personnel honoured for military operations in Libya

PERSONNEL from the Armed Forces have been publicly thanked by the Government for their contribution to military operations in Libya.

The Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, invited the Royal Air Force, including personnel from RAF Henlow, to lead a parade of personnel who served on Operation Ellamy, followed by a reception in the Palace of Westminster.

“The welcome home we offer to troops returning from operations are Parliament’s way of saying thank you for all that our Armed Forces do in our name,” he said.

“The response of members of Parliament and peers is a testament to the high regard in which we hold them, and our respect for their service.”

The aim of last year’s mission was to protect Libyan citizens from attack by the country’s autocratic government while the people fought for the right to decide their own future.

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule of Libya was brought to an end by a six-month uprising and ensuing civil war.

The country is currently governed by the National Transitional Council that emerged from the rebellion and has pledged to turn Libya into a democratic state.

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On Tuesday, an E-3D Sentry and one Sentinel aircraft flew over the Houses of Parliament to mark the welcome home, flanked by Typhoons and Tornado GR4 jets - some of the RAF aircraft instrumental in the success of Operation Ellamy.

Leading the parade of 120 RAF, Royal Navy and Army Air Corps personnel was Wing Commander Nick Tucker-Lowe.

“I flew 62 Tornado GR4 missions, about 330 hours in total,” he said. “That was about the going rate for most of the aircrew that I commanded for that time - it was non-stop.

“There was always an aircraft patrolling the skies over Libya.

“There was no respite - each flight lasted up to eight hours, the equivalent distance of flying from London to Boston in the United States.

“We are very proud of the difference we were able to make; that we were able to save the lives of Libyan people and to give them the opportunity to choose their own future for years to come.

“We are also proud of the support we get from the British public. To be operating a long way from home knowing that you are doing the will of the people of Britain, it means that you can sleep well at night and then get on with the job the next day, focused on the task in hand.”