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Letter from the Squadron - 2001


It was my great honour to take command of 208 Squadron on 5th March this year as part of the restructuring of No 4 Flying Training School at RAF Valley. Now that 208 is once again a recognised Command, it was also my very great pleasure to reintroduce what I hope will be the first of many historical traditions by presenting the outgoing Boss, Squadron Leader Simon Stocker, with his command pennant at the Squadron Ladies Guest Night on 2nd March. As you will be aware, Simon has been the ‘acting’ Boss since September of last year when Squadron Leader Paul Comer left for the Joint Services Command and Stall College at Shrivenham, However, it is a hell of an ‘act’ to follow and I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the current Squadron Members to thank him for his enthusiasm, dedication and energy in command of what is probably now the busiest squadron in the Royal Air Force. I should also like to ensure that his time in command is recorded appropriately in the Squadron history, not as ‘acting,’ but properly as the Officer Commanding No 208 Squadron from 11th September 2000 to 4th March 2001.

In my report to the Association Committee on 22nd March, I summarised a few of the notable occurrences on 208 Squadron since last year's Dinner. As I mentioned, Squadron Leader Paul Comer left for the Staff College in September, but is due to return this September, on promotion, as the Officer Commanding No 19(F) Squadron (our sister Squadron at RAF Valley) when the current incumbent, Wing Commander Paul Sutton (previously the Chief Instructor at RAF Valley if you are following all of the recent changes) moves on to pastures new.

I arrived at RAF Valley in early December 2000 to begin my conversion to the Hawk and, on 10th January this year, was delighted to take part in the Service of Dedication for the 208 Squadron stained glass window in St Mihangel's Church. This outstanding work was designed and produced by the Station Commanders wife, Mrs Karen Newby and was dedicated by the Rt Reverend J D G Kirkham, the Bishop to Her Majesty's Forces. The window commemorates the courage and dedication of all 208 Squadron members, as well as the current role of the Squadron in maintaining the standards of flying within the fast-jet stream of Royal Air Force flying training. In detail, the Squadron crest surmounts a pair of pilots' wings, under which is written ‘They shall rise upon wings as eagles’ - the blessing from Isiah 40 that is used in the dedication service when the students graduate and are presented with their ‘wings’. I sincerely hope that Association members will be able to view this outstanding work on future visits to RAF Valley.

In April, the new Squadron markings were, at last, approved and the first aircraft have now begun to appear on the flight line. The new scheme is intended to reflect the whole history of ‘official’ Squadron markings as part of an overall effort to inculcate a sense of historical pride in our student population, for whom 208 is their very first ‘proper’ Squadron.

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