There was emotional scenes at RAF Lossiemouth at the weekend when 51 Squadron RAF Regiment returned home from their latest spell of duty in Afghanistan.
Now most of the 130 Moray-based troops who formed part of No.5 Force Protection Wing at Camp Bastion will take to the streets of Elgin later this week for an official welcome home led by the Duke of York.
51 Squadron have been in Afghanistan since just before Christmas for what proved to be one of their most arduous deployments, the Protection Wing having been under almost constant threat of attack.
Leading the force was Wing Commander Piers Holland, who expressed his pride at the contribution made by the men and women under his command. He told the returning troops and their families: “I am proud to have served alongside you and for what you have done.
“We’ve done our job, we’ve done it well and we’ve done it with pride – now I’m delighted that we have all come home.”
It was late on Saturday evening before the RAF Voyager transport aircraft finally touched down in Lossiemouth and delivered the troops into the welcoming arms of their families.
Amongst them was SAC Philip Latimer, delighted to be back with his wife Frances and two-month old baby son Chris who he was meeting for the first time.
Before heading home to Elgin SAC Latimer said: “It was so difficult being away – but we planned it all out so I could be back for the longest period of time when he is so young.
“It’s strange to think that this time last week I was patrolling in Afghanistan, and now I’m standing here meeting my son for the first time. It’s an incredible feeling.”
His wife added: “I can’t put into words how glad I am to have him hope – it’s amazing. It was such a weird feeling not having him there for the birth, however we were in constant contact in the 48 hours leading up to it. He managed to phone me just as I went into labour and was on the phone just as I gave birth.”
The Squadron will march through the centre of Elgin on Friday (starting out from South Street at 11.30am) when the Duke of York will take the salute before presenting campaign medals and awards to the returning troops.
RAF Lossiemouth’s station commander, Group Captain Mark Chappell, said: “It is a great pleasure to welcome home 5 Force Protection Wing from their deployment in Afghanistan.
“The wing should be immensely proud of their efforts to defend Camp Bastion and a special mention should be paid to 51 Squadron RAF Regiment for being awarded the Higginson Trophy for 2013 – awarded annually to the RAF Regiment squadron that has demonstrated the greatest overall excellence.”