Published: 04/02/2014 16:31 - Updated: 04/02/2014 17:10

Emotional reunion for 617 Squadron and families

THERE were tears of joy as 'The Dambusters' were reunited with loved ones at RAF Lossiemouth.

On home soil. Members of 617 Sqn touch down at RAF Lossiemouth. Photo by Daniel Forsyth.
On home soil. Members of 617 Sqn touch down at RAF Lossiemouth. Photo by Daniel Forsyth.

Personnel from 617 Squadron returned to the Moray base on Tuesday afternoon following a three month tour of Afghanistan.

There were emotional scenes as 119 members of the Tornado bomber squadron returned home.

It was an historic deployment for the squadron which will disband next month following defence changes and reform in 2018.

Officer Commanding 617 Sqn, Wing Commander David Arthurton said: "In the skies over Afghanistan 617 Squadron completed its last flight as a Tornado squadron. It is fitting that this milestone event occurred on operations, delivering decisive air power much as our forebears did in 1943."

SAC Ben Cross (27) and girlfriend Jodie Peace (22) were among those sharing an emotional reunion.

"It is great to be back," said SAC Cross. "It has been a lot of hard work but very worthwhile."

Added Jodie: "It is great to have him home. It has been a long three months."

The squadron flew 1,510 hours while in Afghanistan and a total of 188 missions.

The ground crews also carried out 11,352 engineering hours to keep the aircraft operational.

Aircrew had to make a 'show of force' on 14 occasions, flying at low level but not necessarily deploying weapons, in support of allied or Afghan national forces on the ground faced with threatening situations.

The squadron also had to deploy four times to provide close air support for ground troops in an emergency situation.

For a picture special from the 617 Squadron return to RAF Lossiemouth see 'The Scot' print version on Friday.

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