Soldiers who dodged bullets, faced insurgents and helped train Afghan security forces for the last 11 months were on parade at their home base.
Today (Wednesday) the sacrifices and services of the 2nd Battalion The Anglian Regiment were celebrated at Kendrew Barracks, in Rutland.
“Be proud of what you did,” Major General Simon Porter told the Regiment, known as The Poachers. He also thanked their families, acknowledging that “waiting is never easy”.
It’s a sentiment Alexandra, 34, whose husband Major Martyn Cook served in Afghanistan, concurred with.
She said: “I have two children so I’m pleased it’s all over and looking forward to some time together as a family.”
Sophie Swann, 37, too, was happy that husband Major Andrew Swann, whose job was to advise Afghan police, was home, as their baby Poppy is just 16 weeks old.
The parade was led by the Regiment’s commanding officer Lt Col Nigel Johnson, from Stretton.
The former Oakham School pupil, whose job was to close down Britain’s main operating bases in Lashkar Gah said: “We did it ahead of schedule and without any difficulty because the Afghan security services enabled us to do it.
“The enduring legacy we have left behind is a confident and capable security service - its entirely down to the UK’s investment in that region.”
Despite the heat, dust and dangers soldiers describe their tour as good.
Pte Andrew Devine, 25, who job was to “disrupt the insurgents” activities, said: “It was a really good tour. It was frightening to begin with then my training kicked in.”
Capt Nick Barron, 30, whose wife Lisa and nine-month old-baby Oliver, were at the parade, said his job was to find weapons and stop insurgents from getting close to their base by using intelligence. “We were the only group to go outside the wire. There were hair-raising moments every now and again so we had to be alert all the time.”
More than 300 soldiers received operational service medals watched by family, friends, veterans and VIPs.
The parade concluded with prayers by Regimental chaplain the Rev John Jameson who thanked God for “bringing the boys safely home”.