A CROWBOROUGH Army officer has been presented with his campaign medal after a demanding six month tour in Afghanistan. Lieutenant Will Abbott, 26, provided engineering support to the NATO led mission to prepare the Afghans to fully take over the security of their own country.
Lt Abbott was deployed with 35 Engineer Regiment which provided engineering support to 20th Armoured Brigade, The Iron Fist, during the tour between September 2011 and March 2012.
Personnel from the regiment operated across Helmand and were instrumental in constructing and upgrading tactical infrastructure for the teams of British soldiers which included patrol bases, forward operating bases (FOBs) and military check points and also cleared convoy routes by detecting and destroying hidden improvised explosive devices (IEDs). They also dismanted and destroyed insurgent fortifications including narcotics and weapon hideouts.
The former Beacon Community College School student who joined the Army in 2009 and served as a troop commander in Afghanistan received his medal at a special open air ceremony at the Schutzen Platz in Paderborn in Northern Germany where he is based.
He said: “I was based at Patrol base Rahim in Helmand. Our job was to support two infantry companies, one British and one Danish – upgrading and developing the patrol base for a new British company. It took two months to do. We also worked closely with the Afghan Army building new check points for them to move into.
“The Afghan National Army improved hugely during my time there. Their engineers worked with us. We gave support and mentored them through the tour which was very rewarding work. We saw our hard work come to fruition when the Afghan soldiers moved in to the check point.”
The largest project the 35 Engineers were involved in was the construction of the 70-metre long Freedom Bridge to connect communities either side of the NEB Canal. Taking three months to build before being handed over to the people of Gereshk in a special ceremony, the Freedom Bridge is the longest bridge built by British military personnel while on operations since World War Two.
Will, who was one of 571 members of the regiment to deploy to Afghanistan, added: “It was a fantastic experience, I can only take my hat off for all the hard work everyone put in, and how they pulled together during difficult times. That’s what being in the Army is all about.”