Air­man praises force’s huge con­tri­bu­tion

The Herald - - NEWS - GE­ORGINA STUBBS

THE RAF has made an “as­ton­ish­ing con­tri­bu­tion” in the last cen­tury of con­flict, a for­mer Tor­nado nav­i­ga­tor and Gulf War air­man has said.

Flight Lieu­tenant John Ni­chol joined the RAF in 1981, serv­ing in the Falk­lands, the Gulf War and Bos­nia dur­ing more than 16 years of ac­tive ser­vice be­fore re­tir­ing in 1996.

The 54-year-old, who was shot down, cap­tured and tor­tured by the Iraqis in 1991, said the RAF has had an “amaz­ing his­tory” and one he is proud to have been a part of.

“Al­though the Air Force is the ju­nior ser­vice, it hasn’t had a ju­nior con­tri­bu­tion to the last 100 years of con­flict,” he said. “It has had an as­ton­ish­ing con­tri­bu­tion.”

Mr Ni­chol said for him the cen­te­nary of the RAF marks “trans­for­ma­tion”, adding that when the ser­vice was first formed “flight was still some­thing that was re­garded as al­most mys­ti­cal”.

“Peo­ple had been fly­ing for maybe only 15 years or so when the RAF was formed,” he added.

“If you think about those young men get­ting air­borne in air­craft that were ba­si­cally string and a bit of wood and can­vas, what they did was as­ton­ish­ing.”

Mr Ni­chol said the RAF was key dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, the Bat­tle of Bri­tain, and the Cold War, where the ser­vice was “at the ab­so­lute fore­front of the nu­clear de­ter­rence”.

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