TWO soldiers from Ripon have been presented with campaign medals after a demanding six-month tour in Afghanistan in which they provided engineering and training support to the NATO led mission.
Sgt Angela Oliver, 46, and L/Cpl Dean Vettese, 22 – both former students of Ripon College – were deployed with the Germany-based 32 Engineer Regiment and were awarded the medals in a special ceremony upon their return to their barracks in Bergen Hohne.
L/Cpl Vettese, who joined the Army in 2007 and has also served in Iraq, was a Mastiff armoured vehicle driver and gunner, transporting a team which searched and cleared convoy routes of explosives devices hidden by the Taliban.
He said: “During one of the convoys our vehicle hit an IED (improvised explosive device) but it wasn’t very bad, there was loads of dust but the vehicle protected us and aside from one of the wheels coming off there was barely any damage.
“It was a good tour, it was a very good experience but I’m glad to be back – it was nice to have a beer when we returned home. This is my second operational medal and I am as proud to receive this one as I was when I received my medal for Iraq.”
Sgt Oliver, whose parents Joseph and Maureen live in Ripon, spent three months in Afghanistan at the beginning of the tour helping the regiment take over responsibilities from their predecessors and organising training.
Angela who has three children – Jordan, 15, Bayleigh, nine, and Jacob, six – joined the Army in 1988.
She said: “I was based in Bastion as part of the training team for the newer guys, helping them to adjust to being out there and the job that they would be doing.
“I loved this tour. I joined 32 Engineers two years ago and found that I fell in love with the Army all over again. I have two kids in boarding school and one six-year-old son who my mother looked after while I was away.”