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New boss for RAF Marham Tornado squadron

17:32 25 October 2012

Wing Cdr Jim Mullholland hands over command of 31 Sqn to Wing Cdr Rich Yates at RAF Marham.

Wing Cdr Jim Mullholland hands over command of 31 Sqn to Wing Cdr Rich Yates at RAF Marham.

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A Tornado squadron’s new commanding officer will be flying over some familiar landmarks when he takes off from RAF Marham.

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For Wing Cdr Rich Yates, who has taken over from Wing Cdr Jim Mulholland at the helm of 31 Sqn, has served in Norfolk twice before.

He inherits a squadron which is set to swop the misty Fens for the heat of Helmand, as it flies out to Afghanistan to take its turn protecting Allied troops from the Taliban.

Wing Cdr Yates, who is returning to 31 Sqn for the fourth time in his career, said: “It is a great privilege to take command of 31 Sqn RAF, who are known as the Goldstars.

“Unusually for a new boss, I have a lot of history on the squadron as this is my fourth tour with the Goldstars and third at RAF Marham.

“Similarly, West Norfolk is an area I know well and enjoy, having made it my home for the last decade.”

Wing Cdr Mulholland said: “My two years in command has been an absolute honour and a pleasure, with a tour in Afghanistan, two North American detachments, a detachment in Gibraltar and, more recently, Exercise Shaheen Star in the Middle East. My last sortie culminated with a high tempo, high workload airfield attack where planning and teamwork are crucial, and it is the importance of that teamwork that I will take away from my tour in command of 31 Sqn.

“I have had the luxury of a first class engineering team who have proven themselves in every environment around the world by achieving their goal to keep the aircrew flying, who in turn have always delivered 100pc of the task.

“I have been lucky enough to work with a team of aircrew and engineers, who have invariably gone above and beyond what is required of them, and as a collective we have ensured that 31 Sqn has continued to deliver sustainable improvement and performance at the leading edge of the front line.”

Wing Cdr Yates joined the Royal Air Force as a University Cadet and studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Salford from 1989-92. After graduating, he progressed through officer and navigator flying training, resulting in a posting to his first operational tour with 31 Sqn who, at the time, were based at RAF Bruggen in Germany.

The Goldstars were formed in 1915. Since then, the much-travelled squadron has spent less than 12 years in the UK.

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