On 11 June 2015, Prince Harry will attend a Service of Dedication to inaugurate the Bastion Memorial and honour those who lost their lives in Afghanistan- where Prince Harry served two tours.
The service held at the National Arboretum, Staffordshire will be attended by those closest to those who sacrificed their lives for their country. Family and friends along with veterans and those currently serving will come together to pay their respects.
Members of the UK’s NATO allies, senior political and military representatives, as well as military organisations and charities will also be present.
After the service that will dedicate the Bastion Memorial and a one minute of silence for the fallen, The Royal British Legion will host a service for the friends and family. Prince Harry will also attend the service.
Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence spoke of the importance of the memorial:
“It is right that we will be holding this important service of dedication in the presence of so many of the family and friends of the brave men and women whose names are etched on the memorial. It will stand as a permanent reminder of the ultimate sacrifice they made towards ensuring the security of the UK and the stability of Afghanistan.”
The new Bastion Memorial follows the same design as the original Bastion Memorial Wall located in Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Following the end of combat operations in 2014 the previous memorial was de-constructed. The original brass plaques and Cross made of shell cases, which were blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, have been used in the reconstructed memorial.
A raised map of Afghanistan, which marks the many locations where UK forces served over the 13 years, has been added.
Senior Aircraftman Gary Thompson, a Reservist based at RAF Cottesmore who lost his life in 2008 left behind his five daughters and wife Jacqui Thompson who said:
“It’s a little over seven years since we lost Gary, and, to be honest, the sense of loss just seems to get bigger! The Bastion Service will be so hard for me because I wasn’t there for Gary’s final moments, I never got to hold him or say goodbye.
“I cannot think of a more fitting place for the Bastion Wall’s final resting place than the National Memorial Arboretum. It is such an incredibly special place. It’s where Gary and our brave men and women have a place where they will never be forgotten.”
By invitation only, each bereaved family member can bring seven guests, a total of 3,500 people are anticipated. After 11 June, the general public can visit the memorial year-round.
Holding the rank of Captain in the Household Cavalry, Prince Harry has undergone two operational tours in 2008 and 2012. The first as a tactical air controller and the latter as an Apache, helicopter pilot. Recently, Prince Harry left his ten-year military career after a final tour in Australia.