ARMY medics from 203 (Welsh) Field Hospital will march through the streets of Risca on Saturday to mark the unit’s homecoming following a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
More than 100 reserve soldiers, who work in hospitals and local health boards across Wales and beyond, will take part in the ceremony.
Sergeant Nigel Smith, from Aberbargoed, will be among those at the parade.
Less than a month ago, the combat medical technician was deployed in Afghanistan providing vital medical assistance for injured troops and civilians.
Based at Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, the 49-year-old was helping those who had received gunshot wounds, sustained injuries from IED blasts and vehicle accidents, as well as treating Afghan locals caught in the crossfire.
He said: “My family are particularly proud. They’ve not really seen me parading other than when I passed out of the regular Army, so it will be a nice day for them. My father is ex-Army so he’s proud as well.”
Mr Smith works as an emergency medical technician for the Ambulance Service’s Hazardous Area Response Team in his day job.
The former Bedwellty Comprehensive School pupil experienced a six-year career in the Regular Army, later joining the third Western General Hospital (now known as the 203 (Welsh) Field Hospital) as a Military Reservist. He has completed a tour of Northern Ireland, Bosnia, two tours of the Falklands and two tours of Afghanistan, the first taking place in 2008.
“It was different this time when compared with my tour in 2008,” he said. ”There were a lot more casualties and quite a few British soldiers were killed in action. This time it was quieter, but the threat is still there in terms of Camp Bastion being attacked.”
Saturday’s event is being organised by Caerphilly council, the 203 (Welsh) Field Hospital’s designated partner for the Armed Forces Community Covenant Scheme.
Mr Smith added: “The support we’ve received from Caerphilly council and the people of the county borough has been absolutely phenomenal. The parade is a thank you to everyone for their continued support. The partnership with the council is a successful one, and one that will continue for a long, long time.”
Harry Andrews, Caerphilly council leader, has urged residents to give the squadron a “heroes’ welcome” at the weekend. He said: “Saturday’s parade in Risca promises to be a proud day for all those marching and receiving medals, but it will be particularly poignant for those who have connections to the county borough.”
The parade will be led by The Band and Corps of Drums of The Royal Welsh and will begin at 11.50am, leaving Risca Primary School onto Graig View, Dan y Graig Road, turning right onto Tredegar Street and coming to a halt in front of the Tredegar Park entrance gates at around midday.
A medal presentation ceremony will then take place before the parade continues through the town centre, coming to a halt at the war memorial near the police station.