On February 12, Prince Charles will honour military Servicemen with a medals parade, followed by a reception at St. James’s Palace’s State Apartments for the returning squadrons and their families.
The Prince of Wales, Admiral of The Fleet, will be presenting Operation Service Medals to personnel from the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF), who recently returned from serving in Afghanistan. These Servicemen are also informally and affectionately nicknamed “Junglies”. This nickname for the current 845 and 847 Naval Air Squadrons came into use in the 1960s when the CHF served in the dense Borneo jungles.
The Prince has a special attachment to the CHF from his own naval career. Prince Charles attended the CHF’s home base in Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in 1974 to train as a Commando Helicopter Pilot. His Royal Highness’ career involved joining the 845 Naval Air Squadron, thus becoming one of the “Junglies”. He was then deployed as a helicopter pilot to Eastern Canadian and Caribbean waters on HMS Hermes in 1975.
The CHF’s Naval Air Squadrons is a combined Royal Marine and Royal Navy force that specialises in amphibious combat, and supports the UK armed forces by operating helicopters ashore or afloat. The pilots are extremely skilled as they are well-trained in commando combat, survival, and advanced flying in extreme conditions. The Commando Helicopter Force has been continuously involved in front line operations since 1991 during the 1st Gulf War. The CHF has been present in Afghanistan since 2007, with elements of the Force operating from Camp Bastion flying both Lynx and Sea King helicopters.
His Royal Highness visited CHF personnel and other British troops in 2010, when he travelled to Camp Bastion, the main military base of the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan. His son Prince Harry, or Captain Harry Wales as he is known in the military, has previously been stationed at Camp Bastion during his combat tours.