November 14, 2014 (by Mandy Park) - Friday 14th November 2014 marked the end of the UK C-130 Hercules Wing’s contribution to Operation HERRICK, as the last two permanently deployed aircraft landed at Royal Air Force Brize Norton, having left Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, two days previously.
This event marks the end of a long chapter in the history of the C-130 Force, having been the only Royal Air Force capability that has been present for the full 13 years of the Afghanistan Campaign. Though the operation has presented challenges, the whole force of aircrew, engineers and dedicated support personnel, military and civilian, consistently delivered throughout.
Wing Commander Andrew Garbutt, Officer Commanding No. 30 Squadron said:
“This is hugely poignant for me; I was there at the start, when we first deployed the aircraft to Afghanistan. It's been a privilege to be the final tactical air transport detachment commander to bring the guys and girls home who've worked so incredibly hard."
Excited families were taken to greet their loved ones as they disembarked from the aircraft and were able to celebrate their reunion with a glass of champagne. The C-130 Force’s role was to provide tactical airlift capability and, in the run up to the draw down of Camp Bastion, transferred a vast amount of freight back to the UK.
Beyond the drawdown of Operation HERRICK, the C-130 Force continues to be committed to operations overseas and remains ready for any future crisis, for which it will inevitably be one of the ‘first in and last out’!
Air Commodore David Lee, Air Officer Air Mobility, said:
“This is not the end of HERRICK for the Air Mobility Force as we still have people deployed on that operation. Moreover, we will continue to provide enduring support to Op KIPION and Op TORAL and our presence in the Middle East will continue.
However, the return of the C-130J element of the Tactical Air Transport detachment is a very significant milestone and brings to a conclusion a long term and highly distinguished deployed commitment to UK operations in Afghanistan. The crews of all three C-130J squadrons, the engineers of No. 33 (Engineering) Squadron and the myriad of movement and support staff that have delivered that capability have done a magnificent job, overcoming daily challenges in often harsh conditions in order to enable critical coalition missions. They can be very proud of what they have achieved and we can be very proud of them.”