A SOLDIER from Pitcaple has been presented with his campaign medal writes, Jan Kemal. The award came after a demanding six-month tour in Afghanistan in which he provided engineering support to the NATO led mission to prepare the Afghans to fully take over the security of their own country.
Sapper Callum Hillerby, 20 deployed with 32 Engineer Regiment which provided engineering support in Lashkar Gah and Nahr-e-Saraj between March and September. Personnel were primarily involved in the construction and upgrade of Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) and military check points and also cleared convoy routes by detecting and destroying hidden Improvised Explosive devices (IEDs).
The former Meldrum Academy School student who joined the Army in 2008 and received his medal at a special ceremony at his barracks in Bergen Hohne in Northern Germany, said: “I was part of a section support team based at one of the Army checkpoints in Helmand. It was a busy tour, we worked 15 hours a day and built check points, Sangers, (guard towers) and upgraded bases. We did whatever engineering tasks needed doing.
“The heat was the most challenging part about being there. It was hot and we were all drinking nearly ten litres of water a day. You always felt dehydrated, but it became normal and you just got used to it.”
The 32 Engineers are part of 7th Armoured Brigade, better known as the famous Desert Rats, which supported 3 Commando Brigade during the tour. They were instrumental in constructing and upgrading tactical infrastructure for the teams of British soldiers who were preparing the Afghan National Security forces for transition in Helmand province.
Callum was one of 330 members of the regiment to deploy to Afghanistan. He added: “The homecoming was really good, with everyone cheering and I managed to have my first beer in six months.
“Getting my medal was a great experience. It is my first medal and I am really proud to receive it. I am now going to go to Thailand for two weeks with some of my mates before going back to Scotland to spend some time with my family.”
The parade which was watched by the families of the soldiers also included music from the Band of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.
Addressing the soldiers during the ceremony Major General James Bashall, General Officer Commanding Germany based 1 (UK) Armoured Division, who presented the medals said: “For most of us there are moments in our careers that are memorable and special. For all of you I hope this is a memorable day, I would like to thank you for your work in Afghanistan.
“We are making progress in Afghanistan but that progress is not always glamorous and some jobs don’t receive much publicity but it is essential nonetheless.”