Student spends gap year fighting Taliban

MOST students pull pints, flip burgers or pester their parents to make ends meet at university.But instead, 20-year-old Peter Tudor chose to battle the Taliban with the RAF to finance his further education.

MOST students pull pints, flip burgers or pester their parents to make ends meet at university.

But instead, 20-year-old Peter Tudor chose to battle the Taliban with the RAF to finance his further education.

Senior Aircraftman Tudor is back at RAF Marham after a six-month tour of Afghanistan where his unit defended the Nato airfield at Kandahar - a vital supply hub for coalition troops.

He signed up to a part-time auxiliary squadron after leaving school but fought alongside regular servicemen in pursuit of a full RAF pay-packet to fund his studies.

The young aircraftman endured regular rocket attacks, 15-hour foot patrols and took part in night-time raids to arrest suspected weapons suppliers and bombers.

But, despite being only 80km from the fierce fighting in Helmand Province, SAC Tudor described Kandahar as “pretty calm apart from the odd rocket”.

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He said: “It is easy to brush it off when you hear reports that the base had been attacked, but when you hear rockets going past your head you start to realise that you might not wake up if one of them hits your billet. Rocket attacks are so indiscriminate and if it happens, it happens. If not, you just need to get on with your job. That is the British way.”

SAC Tudor joined 2620 Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force at Marham after finishing his A- levels last spring.

But the squadron's current deployment in Iraq coincided with university term-time, so when he asked for the opportunity to fight overseas he was assigned to 15 Squadron based at RAF Honington.

The year-long secondment has earned him £15,000 towards an astrophysics degree course if he is not selected for his dream place on the RAF's gruelling four-year fighter pilot training scheme.

“When I finished my A-levels I thought I could get a job like every other student or I could get a year's pay as a regular,” he said.

“I thought I could just give something back to the air force and I got to experience a conflict zone and a different country. Now I get the best of both worlds. I can go to university and get a regular job or stay in the RAF. I have got a medal on my chest and I am walking proud. If students want to have something on their CV and something to tell people about at university then they should do it.”

Sqn Ldr Jonathan White, the officer commanding 2620 Squadron, said: “SAC Tudor has been an outstanding ambassador for this auxiliary squadron. He was a great asset to the squadron.”

For information about the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, contact 0800 783 1915 or visit www.rafreserves.com

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