AN ELLON man whose lifelong dreams of serving in the armed forces has spoken of his life with the Royal Air Force.
20-year old former Academy pupil Nico Russell’s boyhood ambition was to serve in the armed forces - firstly as a soldier, and latterly in the RAF. Now, in the middle of a tour of duty in Afghanistan, he is living up to that ambition, after joining the RAF in 2009.
Nico, a senior aircraftman with the RAF’s II Squadron, serves as part of the protection team on the RAF’s helicopter-borne Medical Evacuation Response Team (MERT), which transports injured troops from the battlefield to stable medical facilities. Nico’s duties involve protecting medical personnel while they attend the wounded combatants on the ground.
It’s a job not without risks - the last event Nico took part in involved picking up soldiers who had been injured by an improvised explosive device, which has become an increasingly common tactic used by the Taliban in the ongoing insurgency against UK and US troops inside the country.
British troops have remained stationed inside Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in 2001 which toppled the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime.
“It’s a pretty busy job” Nico said. “But I am enjoying it - it’s all I ever wanted to do”.
Nico has certainly prepared well for the physically demands, A regular rugby player at his home station of RAF Honington, Suffolk, he has also taken part in a 63 mile march in Poland last year.
Nico has a family heritage of serving in the forces. One grandfather served in the army, and the other, like Nico, served in the RAF, but as a radar operator during World War II.