Stevenage RAF men return from Afghanistan

Corporal Tom Wheeler (left) and Corporal Scott Burrell (right)

Corporal Tom Wheeler (left) and Corporal Scott Burrell (right) - Credit: Archant

With the Royal British Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal raising money to support those currently serving for the armed forces, the Comet has spoken to two men who have been recognised for their work in Afghanistan with the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Corporals Scott Burrell, 30, and Tom Wheeler, 23, both of Stevenage, were presented with medals at an award ceremony at the RAF base in Henlow on Friday.

The two reservists had been stationed at Camp Bastion as members of a police squadron, the RAF equivalent of the Territorial Army, supporting the regular service crews in security operations.

Corporal Wheeler, a former pupil at Heathcote School, had already toured Afghanistan once before.

He said: “I find that you tend to get yourself into a routine when you’re out there. Getting up every day at 5am and working for 12 hours non-stop becomes just a regular part of your day. We would literally search every shoe, sock and sack for contraband material which could range from mobile phones or alcohol to more serious items such as guns or other weaponry.”

It was the first time serving abroad for Corporal Burrell, who has a four-year-old daughter and works for satellite communications company Astrium in Gunnels Wood Road, Stevenage. In his regular job, he helped design some of the communication devices used by the RAF.

He said: “I measure my service time as starting when I leave my family to when I’m back with them. It can be a challenge and it is a serious commitment but you come away feeling like you’ve really made a contribution to something that matters. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.

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“We trained very hard and were well prepared. Of course there are some things, such as being away from your family, that are not easy but you definitely learn to prioritise and focus on the job at hand.”

To find out more about becoming a reservist at RAF Henlow call 0845 606 9069.