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Home for Christmas is best present for airmen families

By West Briton  |  Posted: December 27, 2012

  • Welcome home, daddy – Lieutenant Sam Yarker, the flight observer, with his wife, Gemma and daughter, Iris. : MoD.

  • Petty Officer aircrewman Dan Gartenfeld with his girlfriend, Kerry Devlin and daughter, Ashley-Louise. : MoD

  • Lieutenant Earl Kingston, the flight commander, hugs his wife Janthea. : MoD.

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CULDROSE families have received their best Christmas present ever – their loved ones home in time for the holiday.

A team from Culdrose has arrived back in Cornwall from their six-month deployment to the Indian Ocean having supported the continuing fight against piracy and people andrug trafficking.

The airmen will now enjoy some well-earned shore leave.

The aircrew and engineers sailed with a Merlin helicopter from 829 Squadron aboard HMS Sutherland.

They contributed to the multinational operation to assist in counter-piracy operations as well as surveillance.

The team from Culdrose, headed by Lieutenant Earl Kingston, was heavily involved with patrolling thousands of miles of ocean in temperatures reaching over 40C, ensuring the safe passage of vessels in some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

It was a very busy deployment for the Cornish-based personnel.

With two Royal Marines embarked, the aircrew have scoured shorelines and open oceans for suspicious vessels, provided protection for boarding operations, conducted lifting of stores from replenishment ships and airlifted various compassionate cases into a variety of different countries for onward travel.

The flight's engineers had a particularly challenging time, having to maintain the aircraft in hangar temperatures of over 50C and 90 per cent humidity.

The team have since handed over to another Culdrose-based flight onboard sister ship HMS Northumberland, who are now performing operations in the Gulf for the next six months.

On his return, Lieutenant Kingston, the flight commander, said: "After such a busy six months away, I was thrilled to see my wife waiting for me as we landed at Culdrose.

"It's great to be home for Christmas."

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