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War heroes are honoured at medals parade as proud families look on.

HEROES of Afghanistan were yesterday honoured at a medals parade.

The soldiers, from 132 Battery (The Bengal Rocket Troop), 39 Regiment Royal Artillery “RGA” redirects here. For other uses, see RGA (disambiguation).
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, generally known as the Royal Artillery (RA), is an Arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it is made up of a number of regiments.
, have spent six months on the front line in Afghanistan.

Now back in the North East, family and friends proudly watched as they received their operational service medals.

"I am so proud of them all," said Victoria Ford, whose partner Bombardier Gareth Stubbs was among the 70 officers and soldiers presented with the medal by 1st Artillery Brigade An artillery brigade is a specialised form of military brigade dedicated to providing artillery support. Other brigades might have an artillery component, but an artillery brigade is a brigade dedicated to artillery and relying on other units for infantry support, especially when  Commander, Colonel Fitzgerald.

Bdr Stubbs, 36, of Sunderland, has been in the army since he was 16 and is due to return to the front line next April.

Fortunately, he will be home for the birth of their first child in October.

"The timing has worked out really well," said Victoria, 37, a police sergeant. "Gareth will be in England when the baby is born, and he is very excited."

The 132 Battery had been in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, since last October, providing fire support for 11 Light Brigade on Operation Herrick Operation Herrick is the codename under which all British operations in the war in Afghanistan have been conducted since 2002. It consists of the British contribution to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and support to the US-led Operation Enduring  11.

Soldiers were split between working in headquarters and manning two hi-tech rocket launcher sites which protect British troops on the ground.

Karl Sutton, of Seaton Sluice Coordinates:

Seaton Sluice is a village in Northumberland. It lies on the coast at the mouth of the Seaton Burn, midway between Whitley Bay and Blyth. It has a population of about 4000 people.
, Northumberland, was proudly watching oldest son, Lance Bombardier Mark Sutton, receive his medal yesterday.

It was the 22-year-old's third tour of duty since joining the army at 16 -and now his younger brother has followed in his footsteps and signed up as well.

"I am very proud of my lads, and all the soldiers," said Karl, 42. "In September, Mark will be away again, and his brother will be out at the same time.

"I've told my youngest son he isn't allowed to join the army as well -I don't think I can cope."

Lce Bdr Sutton's girlfriend, Joanne Oliver, 22, was also watching the parade. "Mark being away somewhere so dangerous is something you never quite get used to," she said. "We always worry but we are also very proud of him."

Commanding Officer Colonel Paul Tombleson said: "The character of the campaign in Afghanistan is changing. "Previous deployments have had to fire more frequently, in order to put the insurgency on the back foot.

"Now, we are in a situation where we are focussing on the population of Afghanistan.

The artillery have to be incredibly restrained in when we deliver fire.

"The challenge is to be ready, because when situations arise it is no less urgent. The artillery play a very important role."

The gunners have been replaced by soldiers from the Regiment's 176 (Abu Klea) Battery.

British troops are part of the 37-nation strong NATO NATO: see North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
 in full North Atlantic Treaty Organization

International military alliance created to defend western Europe against a possible Soviet invasion.
 International Assistance Force (ISAF ISAF International Security Assistance Force (UN program)
ISAF International Sailing Federation
ISAF International Shark Attack File
ISAF Israeli Air Force
ISAF Information Security Awareness Forum
), in Afghanistan to establish the secure environment necessary for reconstruction and development.


HEROES The medal parade at Albermarle Barracks WELCOME HOME Gareth Stubbs with his partner Victoria Ford
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 22, 2010
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