Honour for RAF officer

RAF flight lieutenant Ian Abson proudly displays his medal.
RAF flight lieutenant Ian Abson proudly displays his medal.

AN RAF officer has been awarded a top medal for his “determination, courage and sense of duty” during combat in Afghanistan.

Flight lieutenant Ian Abson, 43, led missions to support NATO troops while serving with the French Air Force as a navigator.

The former Sandal man has been presented with the Croix de la Valeur Militaire - Cross of Military Valour - with bronze star by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

His citation from Armee de l’Air describes the former Kettlethorpe and Freeston High School pupil as having shown “exceptional military qualities”.

It states: “He particularly distinguished himself on May 19, 2010, during a mission to support American troops under heavy fire close to the Pakistan border, delivering a laser guided bomb on to the enemy position, stopping the enemy firing and ensuring the safety of troops on the ground.

“These qualities were also illustrated during 24 war missions of combat air support as part of the international war on terrorism and the re-establishment of peace in Afghanistan.

“For his determination, courage and sense of duty, he merits this recognition.”

The medal was presented during a ceremony at St Dizier Air Base.

On receiving his award, Flt Lt Abson said: “It is an honour and privilege to be recognised for one’s efforts and particularly by another country.

“I’m extremely proud to be a British RAF officer on operations with the French, both in Afghanistan and in Libya, flying the UK flag and making a direct contribution to our relatively new bilateral defence agreement.”

Flt Lt Abson transferred to the RAF in 2001 following 15 years in the Fleet Air Arm, during which time he served in the first Gulf War as a navigator on Lynx helicopters.

He was deployed three times to Iraq and worked as a Qualified Tactics Instructor before starting a three-year exchange with the French Air Force.

He was involved in the early raids into Libya, including leading France’s first four aircraft missions of the campaign.