JHSS marks 35 years with a Royal Visit
Joint Helicopter Support Squadron (JHSS) celebrated its 35-year anniversary this year and to mark the occasion it welcomed Her Royal Highness Princess Anne who visited in her role as Colonel-in-Chief of The RLC.
During the visit on 31 Oct, Her Royal Highness was joined by The Corps Colonel of The RLC, Colonel Colin Francis, and the Corps Adjutant, Major Mark Pasalk, who were welcomed by Major Tom Shaw, Officer Commanding JHSS, and Group Captain Hamish Cormack, Station Commander.
Following a Squadron photo and short overview of the Station, the 90-minute visit incorporated a walk through of three capability stands manned by officers, soldiers and airmen, as well as a role demonstration.
Ably supported by a Chinook and Puma, the demonstration displayed the basic soldiering skills needed in order to secure and prepare the Helicopter Landing Site for the rigging of a selection of underslung loads.
Her Royal Highness seemed suitably impressed and ensured the team were kept on their toes by asking copious questions. She was particularly interested in the support the team gave to helicopter operations in the Caribbean during Operation RUMAN.
During the visit, squadron personnel and their families were lucky enough to spend some time with the Princess, who was very interested in meeting everyone involved. HRH left by Royal Flight S76 to her next engagement at Buckingham Palace with a smile on her face and a bouquet of flowers presented by MACr Gareth Attridge’s six-year-old twins, Harry and Sophie.
“The visit went extremely well. Her Royal Highness left with a firm understanding of the support that JHSS provides and the different levels of readiness that we operate at, not only in the UK but worldwide,” said Major Tom Shaw, Officer Commanding JHSS.
JHSS was initially formed in Jul 1982 for one purpose; to support Mk 1 Chinook helicopters in Falkland’s war to support Ground Troops. It continues to support the British Forces in the South Atlantic Islands, with Helicopter Handling Teams being front and centre in the Falkland Islands.
On 1 Jul this year, past and present members of the Squadron reunited in celebration of the anniversary. Staff Sergeant Rob Punchard from The RLC flawlessly executed the event which included stands showing the capabilities of the Squadron along with a Mk 6 Chinook and a Formula 1 race car.
The anniversary also included talks from previous members of JHSS, in particular a member of the then Joint Helicopter Support Unit and his experiences whilst deployed to the Falklands War.
Over the 35 years the Squadron has been established, it has supported the UK Armed Forces across the globe and as such has been integral to operations and exercises alike. JHSS has continued to be busy time since its move to RAF Benson.
The Squadron has supported exercises and operations across the UK, Norway, Germany, Afghanistan, Canada and the USA, plus the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Pakistan and Op RUMAN.