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Operation Sweet Talk

Since 1989 there has been a Memorandum of Understanding with the USA that sets the conditions for a US/UK exchange programme. This programme still exists within the Army Reserve and this year, 157 Regiment sent two people to the USA in Jun/Jul 15; Lt Cann and Cpl Walsh. They both visited South Dakota, home of the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore, for their exchange and got to experience some very exciting and different opportunities. Hosted by Capt Nick Dupont and Sgt Tyler Eissler of the U.S. National Guard, they experienced a good mix of military training, fitness, culture, fun and travel.

In September, during our Annual Camp, the two U.S. National Guard soldiers came to the UK and I was selected to organise their visit. I was aware it had to be enjoyable but worthy of the public purse; the more effort I put in, the more they would benefit. I had established they wanted to see a “few castles and London” from an early conversation but other than that, they gave me freedom of movement.

Week 1 of the exchange would be on Annual Camp in Swynnerton and Monday was going to be a loooong day! It was the Yorkshire 3-Peaks challenge (25 miles in 12 hours) and was a perfect day for it, cool, clear and minimal wind. The pace was fairly “brisk” in order to push the members on the Ex CAMBRIAN PATROL team and we completed it in just under 8 hours: our American friends had just done almost a whole marathon, over mountains, with no build-up training. I was impressed! They were sore! The rest of week one was taken up with SA80 training, ranges, off-road driving, briefs and visits.

On Saturday morning, my “Non-green” programme was engaged and the more enjoyable experiences could begin. Tyler is a huge Arsenal fan so they both paid for a train to London and he went to watch the Chelsea v Arsenal game while Nick enjoyed the “delights” of the surrounding bars on match day! I collected them from London and moved to Brighton in anticipation of the USA vs Samoa Rugby World Cup game; they didn’t have tickets but they wanted to try and buy them on the door. I got us some accommodation at a friend’s house and headed out into the Brighton night.

Sadly, there were no tickets available for the rugby game but I didn’t give up here. I put my uniform on and went to ask at the gate if I could please take my American Military friends into the game. “They are visiting and would love to see the game but don’t have tickets.” The Supervisor, ex Coldstream Guards, after a bit of Loggie Banter, welcomed us in and took us to some great seats. This more or less set the tone for the rest of the week…

I managed to get my American guests into almost everywhere including, but not limited to the Beatles Exhibition, Caernarfon Castle, Cardiff Castle, Caerphilly Castle, Stonehenge, Emirates Stadium (Arsenal ground), Tintern Abbey, Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards and the European Premiere of ‘The Martian.’ The last was my particular favourite…

I won’t divulge how it happened but, there we are, on the red carpet outside the Odeon Leicester Square, and I’m interviewing Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Mara, Sir Ridley Scott, and Matt Damon. You can see some of the photos below and the interviews are on the forces.tv website. We were then invited inside as Ridley Scott’s guests! Not your average day in work and it isn’t over yet…

The Royal Logistic Corps

The Lifetime Achievement award goes to....Lt Col Fiona Gordon’s sporting career spans nearly 30 years where she has represented both the RLC and Army, as well as her running club, at cross country, athletics and trail running. Such achievements are worthy of recognition but, equally impressive, has been her dedication, energy and leadership that has inspired, encouraged, and mentored hundreds of athletes, particularly women, to participate in sport. These factors epitomise the very essence of the Lifetime Achievement Award.During her career Col Fiona has won over 60 individual titles (from unit to national master’s level) in all running disciplines ranging from 400m to an 86-mile ultra-marathon; as well as multi-terrain duathlons. In her younger years, she was twice selected to represent the Army at the Inter-Services, at a time when there was only one team of six. As a Corps sportswoman, there can’t be many (if any) athletes who, not only still finish in the top five in their Corps, but then go on to represent their Corps at the Inter-Corps Championships every time. Perhaps equally unique, she is also possibly one of the few left in the Corps that were awarded their Corps colours (for both cross country and athletics) following its formation in 1993. And, remarkably at age 51 she still finished 4th RLC female at the Corps and Inter Corps Championships. ... See MoreSee Less
The Hemming Belt is awarded to.....This season has been a Royal performance from LCpl Megan Reid culminating in her being crowned as the Scottish National Champion. She began boxing after joining The RLC in 2013 and she won an RLC title in her first season as a boxer. Thereafter, she entered the Army Individuals' Championships that same year where her natural talent shone through and she was crowned champion. Given her Scottish heritage, the following season she entered the Scottish Championships, and was narrowly beaten in the final, no mean feat for her third boxing season. Her performance in the final was outstanding and resulted in her first international call up, representing Scotland in the Great Britain Championships. LCpl Reid returned to the English Championships in 2017, this time going one step further and gaining a Silver medal. Since then she has represented The RLC, Army, UK Armed Forces and Scotland at the highest level in the European Championships and twice at the World Championships. LCpl Reid has represented the Corps and the Army with a style that most boxers and other sportsmen and sportswomen aspire. She is a credit to her Unit, The RLC and the Army and a role model for all aspiring athletes and soldiers. She has achieved so much in such a short space of time where, looking to the future, her Gold at her National Championships means that she is the unrivalled queen of RLC Boxing and is duly nominated for the award of the Hemming Belt. ... See MoreSee Less
The Lifetime achievement award goes to.....Cpl Keleni Drummond has been a Corps and Army sportswoman since she joined the Army in 2001 at the age of 21. Her military sporting career began on the Rugby pitch, but it did not take long for Basketball and Netball players to scout her for their respective teams; she has played all three sports at Corps level from inception. By the time of her assignment to 17 Port and Maritime Regiment in 2007, Cpl Drummond had represented the Army at Rugby, Netball and Basketball. Sadly, during an Army Rugby fixture against the Farnborough Women's Team she was badly injured and had to take a break from the pitch to focus on rehabilitation. Dedicated and focused to recuperate, by 2009 she was back fighting fit and switched her focus to both Netball and Basketball. Cpl Drummond’s sporting successes are numerous and varied where, in addition to representing the UK Armed Forces Basketball Team from 2016 - 2018, she captained the Corps Netball Team from 2012 - 2014 leading the RLC to Inter-Corps victory three years in a row, including representing the Army during this period. In spite of her previous injury Cpl Drummond put her rugby boots back on in 2019 to re-join the Corps Team in winning the Inter-Corp Rugby 10s, 15s and the Palestine Cup. She continued her successful leadership streak and captained the Army Masters Netball Team to success at the 2020 Inter-Services Championships. Corporal Drummond is one of the most decorated multi-sport sportswomen in the Corps. In her 20-year career to date she has competed at Regimental level in countless sports, but has truly flourished as a Corps, Army and UKAF player in Rugby, Netball and Basketball. Cpl Drummond represents the very best of her generation and fully deserves recognition for The RLC Sports Awards Outstanding Achievement category. ... See MoreSee Less