EVERYONE knows The News is the best way to keep on top of all the latest goings-on in and around Portsmouth.
And 8,000 miles away from home in Afghanistan, Chief Petty Officer Phil Roberts makes sure he still gets his favourite local newspaper.
It’s a vital link to home for the Royal Navy aircraft engineer from Fareham who is serving in Camp Bastion with comrades from 1710 Naval Air Squadron, based at HMS Nelson in Portsmouth.
The 46-year-old father-of-two is the Senior Repair Coordinator for all of the UK’s military helicopters in the Helmand warzone.
The engineers keep the air mission going and are on 24-hour alert to go out on the ground if a helicopter receives battle damage or is suffering from technical problems in the field.
Britain has around 35 helicopters deployed in Afghanistan. Phil and his team are able to turn their hand to fix a diverse range of aircraft including Merlin, Lynx, Chinook, Sea King and Apache attack helicopters armed with Hellfire missles.
Phil, who has served for 29 years and volunteered to got to Afghanistan, said: ‘During my time in the navy, I’ve served in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Norway as well as on board numerous warships.
‘This tour, which is my second to Afghanistan, has been a rewarding experience for us all. The helicopters that we repair in this challenging environment are vital to the operation here and it’s immensely satisfying for the whole team to complete a job and return the aircraft to the squadron.’
CPO Roberts said he’s looking forward to returning home this Autumn to see his son Keiron, daughter Kayleigh and partner Mary, who regularly posts him The News and other goodies.