AN ARMY Reservist has been thrilled to offer vital ground support to a helicopter fleet this Summer.
Alex Pead-Walsh, of Dursley, has been providing support to the Wildcat helicopter fleet at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset.
The 21-year-old was working behind a bar just over two-months-ago when he was given the chance to hone his skills on rolling 30-day attachments to the Army Air Corps.
Mr Pead-Walsh is now an air trooper with 675 (Rifles) Squadron, 6 Regiment, Army Air Corps, based in Bishops Hull, Taunton.
Until April, the 675 squadron had been an infantry unit known as B Company – only just taking on the role of protecting, refuelling, rearming and rigging loads for the latest Wildcat and Apache helicopters.
After serving as a reservist for two years, Mr Pead-Walsh, who holds a private pilot’s licence, leapt at the opportunity to get involved with the Air Corps.
He said: “When I heard that B Company were transferring to Army Air Corps, I joined them straightaway. It was a natural move because I have had a private pilot’s licence since my 17th birthday.
“My dad is ex-army and is also a private pilot. I was a cadet in the Air Training Corps for four years so it’s in the blood really.”
The 675 (Rifles) Squadron is planning to grow to two Flights (equivalent to infantry platoons) in Taunton and a third in Yeovil, expanding to numbers of about 150.
Another big change is that the unit will no longer be an almost exclusively male domain. The new varied nature of the roles means that they can now recruit as many women as men.
With £1.8bn investment in better training and better equipment, the Army Reserve (formerly the Territorial Army) is planning to expand to 30,000 trained reservists by 2018.
Enhanced conditions for reservists include the introduction of paid annual leave and pension entitlements during training and operations, plus better access to defence health services and training.
For more information about 675 (Rifles) Squadron call 01823 354570 or to find out about opportunities in the Army Reserve visit www.army.mod.uk/join/20237.aspx .