A FAMILIAR FIGURE to civilians as he orchestrated such as remembrance parades around the region, the Station Warrant Officer at RAF Lossiemouth is often a feared figure for service personnel at the Moray base.
Few escape the eagle-eyed attention of the SWO as he paces his military domain – but the affection in which he is held is never far from the surface.
That was why the departure of Warrant Officer Bernie Morrell MBE was both a reason for celebration and sorrow this week as he donned a bowler in place of his peaked cap and bid farewell after 37 years dedicated service – the last three at Lossiemouth.
Bernie joined the RAF in 1978 and served in Germany, Northern Ireland and Iraq with the RAF Regiment. He rose to become a Station Warrant Officer, the most respected position a non-commissioned officer can attain, assuming the vital role of the Station Commander’s most trusted advisor.
Tradition is important to all three military services and in the RAF the SWO is trustee of those traditions. Now for Bernie Morrell it is back to civvies as he handed over to his successor WO Al Milligan.
In the time honoured tradition, fellow Warrant Officers and station personnel gathered to escort Mr Morrell from the base for the last time, assisted by his former colleagues from 51 Squadron RAF Regiment on one of their land rovers.
Asked about his time in Moray Mr Morrell said: “When I joined the Royal Air Force 37 years ago, if someone had told me then that I would become the SWO at the premier Royal Air Force fast jet base I wouldn’t have believed them.
“It has been a privilege to end my career on such a high note.”
The opportunity for base personnel to relax on the departure of the SWO was a fleeting one however, as WO Milligan has quickly settled into his role. He said: “Taking over from such a massive personality as ‘Bernie’ will be a challenge, but one that I am honoured to step up to.
“Lossiemouth holds a special place in my heart, after serving here on so many previous occasions, and I look forward to my new role and whatever the future might bring.”