It was the moment their families had been waiting for, ever since they left for their seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Number 58 Squadron of the Royal Air Force Regiment returned home safely to RAF Leuchars on Wednesday evening following their successful operational deployment to Camp Bastion as part of the RAF’s contribution to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.
It was the last homecoming for 58 Squadron. The unit will shortly disband as the RAF prepares to relocate to Lossiemouth in Moray.
There were emotional scenes at the base as loved ones and families waited patiently for their return, and they watched in excitement and anticipation as the squadron arrived back at RAF Leuchars aboard the RAF’s newest transport aircraft, Voyager.
Moments later, the squadron personnel were greeted by their friends and colleagues at the base before being happily reunited with their families.
Air Commodore Gerry Mayhew, Air Officer Scotland and Station Commander RAF Leuchars, said: “I am delighted to welcome the officers and men of No. 58 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment safely back to Royal Air Force Leuchars following a demanding and successful tour in Afghanistan.
“They have done an exemplary job enabling air operations to continue unimpeded from Bastion airfield and should be rightly proud of their contribution to the NATO mission there.”
Deployed in October 2013, 58 Squadron had to operate in both extremely cold and debilitating hot climatic conditions, often working beyond the perimeter of their base for 14 days at a time and under constant threat of attack.
Squadron Leader Anthony Hutchinson, officer commanding 58 Squadron, said: “The recent tour has added another chapter to the squadron’s already distinguished operational history and we would like to extend our thanks to all those who have supported us throughout an arduous and challenging seven-month period.
“With the tour now complete we are happy to be coming home to our loved ones and a period of post operational leave.”
Members of the public will be able to show their appreciation by joining 58 Squadron as they celebrate their achievements in Afghanistan and their homecoming as part of the Royal Air Force Leuchars Freedom Parade in St Andrews on Saturday, May 10. The parade is due to begin at 10.25 a.m.