Buckingham man retires from RAF career after more than 40 years

Akeley-born Andy Russell has retired after more than 40 years of full service

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 11:49 am
Andy Russell at a Buckingham Palace garden party

A Buckingham man has retired from the RAF this week, after more than 40 years of service.

Andy Russell aged 58, grew up in Akeley with his parents Jack and June, brothers David and Brian and sister Debbie, and attended Buckingham Secondary School.

His father, Jack, had been a rear gunner in the RAF during the Second World War, and this inspired Andy to join the RAF too.

Andy Russell with his wife Tracey, after receiving his Meritorious Service Award

He started at the Buckingham Air Training Corps and, at the age of 17, joined the RAF in December 1980.

His first posting after passing out was RAF Stanbridge in Leighton Buzzard, where he met his wife, Tracey.

His first overseas posting was in 1982 to Germany. This was followed by several UK and overseas postings, including a NATO tour in Holland, the Al Yamamah Project in Saudi Arabia, and a tour to Cyprus. He has also completed operational tours in the Falklands and Afghanistan.

After Cyprus, the family settled in Buckingham, while Andy continued with various positions at RAF High Wycombe and RAF Halton.

Andy Russell in Santiago on a charity walk of the Camino

Andy always wanted to achieve the same rank as his father, which he did, being promoted to Warrant Officer, the highest non-commissioned rank, in 2009.

As Andy was about to leave the RAF in 2017, he was offered a three-year career extension, and a posting to the Tactical Leadership Programme in Spain.

Andy returned to Buckingham in January this year, and finally retired from the RAF on Monday May 3, after 40 and half years of full service.

During his career, Andy has received several commendations, has been mentioned in the Queen's Birthday Honours list, and most recently was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in the New Year Honours list 2017.

Andy Russell and wife Tracey at a summer ball at RAF Halton, with elder son Dean and wife Kirsty, left, and younger son Darren and wife Sam, right.

Andy has raised money for charity on several occasions, running the London Marathon in 1998 for CLIC, trekking to Annapurna Base Camp in the Himalayas with wife Tracey in 2017 to raise money for Odyssey, and walking part of the Camino de Santiago in 2019, again accompanied by Tracey, for the RAF Benevolent Fund.

Andy is looking forward to enjoying his retirement, gardening, and spending time with his family, including wife Tracey, sons Dean and Darren and grandchildren Kate, Chloe, Jenson, and Phoebe.