The following is a personal account of Operation Rescript by RAF Reservist Corporal Gary Forder.
Around this time last year I put my civilian life on hold and began a journey into the unknown by mobilising with the Royal Air Force (RAF) under government legislation in support of Op RESCRIPT (the operational name given to helping our nation and indeed the rest of the world in combating COVID 19.)
As an RAF Reservist with 3 (Tactical) Police Squadron, RAF Police, I felt an overwhelming sense of duty when this terrible pandemic unfolded, to assist in any way I could.
At 0700 hrs on 14 Apr 20, my life was packed into 2 holdalls and I reported for duty. I had no idea where I would be posted, what I would be expected to do, or even how long I would be away from home. All I knew was that reservists like me were needed, and needed quickly, to help the wider Armed Forces and our Country in whatever way we could, nothing like this ever experienced since 1939. To say I was a little anxious and emotional would be an understatement.
Over the coming months, in what we call an operational theatre, I found myself tasked with jobs and roles that has seen my past 9 years’ experience with the RAF Police Reserves and the training awarded to me as a reservist tested to the limits.
From carrying out routine security patrols of Temporary Resting Facilities, mortuaries erected to support NHS hospitals capacity to cope with the numbers of COVID 19 victims, to operating and mentoring mobile COVID 19 testing units around East Anglia, to escorting prisoners to secure transportation, or reacting to incidents that were reported, to where I find myself today at the RAF’s main air head at RAF Brize Norton. Working alongside my regular counterparts supporting them with Air Transport Security, ensuring the safe passage of personnel, cargo and troops traveling on tasks around the world, to safeguarding the secure and speedy transport of COVID 19 vaccinations globally.
I am immensely proud of the tasks I have undertaken and the inspiring people I have met along the way. The selfless attitudes of fellow Reservists and Regulars alike who have given their all to help total strangers in their fight against this deadly virus. At times risking their own safety and wellbeing, making sacrifices without reward or recognition but with the sole intention of helping others, has on occasion been humbling.
Every day has been a challenge and an experience I will carry for the rest of my life. I am proud to have served my Queen and my Country and to have helped and supported all the remarkable people who live in it.
Thank you to Thirteen (UK) Ltd for having the capacity to allow me to fulfil my duties for the RAF during these challenging times both personally and professionally and thank you to my customers who have stuck by me and supported me though these unprecedented and sometimes very difficult times.
Thank you to the RAF and 3 (Tactical) Police Squadron for the opportunity, thank you to my friends for their encouragement, but the biggest thank you to my family for their understanding and ongoing support.
With special thanks to Sue Roberts, Warrant Officer No 3 RAuxAF Police Squadron, No 1 (Specialist) Police Wing, RAF Honington, Bury St Edmunds for sending Gary’s story.