Estonian Army decorates Vikings’ Commanding Officer ahead of homecoming parade in Romford

The commanding officer of the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment has been honoured by the Estonian Army for his services in Afghanistan.

It comes as the soldiers, who are known as the Vikings are preparing to return home for a homecoming parade in Romford’s historic marketplace on Tuesday November 6 from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.

Lieutenant Colonel Mick Aston was presented with the Golden Cross of the Army Officer by Estonian Natioanl Contingent Coammnader Lieutenant Colonel Margus Koplimagi during a ceremony at the remote patrol base Pimon in western Helmand Province.

Colonel Koplimagic said: “The Estonian infantrymen are happy to have served under Lieutenant Colonel Aston’s command.

“He knew how to use the full capabilities of the Estonian compnay, from the infantrymen to the medical personnel as well.”

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Lt Col Aston first seved with the Estonians in 2007 and has spent the past six months commanding the 160 strong Estonian contingent, known as Estcoy-14, who are serving in Afghanistan as part of the UK-led Task Force Helmand.

The Golden Cross of the Army Officer is presented to senior officers and generals who have distinguished themselves in service with the Estonian Amry.

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Ony 81 soldiers have received the award.

”Lt Col Aston said: “I am deeply moved by the honour and am proud to have served with the Estonians.

“Estcoy-14 is as professional as any infantry company should be.”

The Vikings homecoming parade through Romford is expected to start from the Arcade Place before moving on to South Street and finishing off at Romford Market,

Residents are encouraged to line the route and to come out and to show their support.

The Battalion were first deployed in Kabul in 2002, just months after the attack on the World Trade Centre.

Since then they have played a major role in helpiung to make progress in Afghanistan.

In this last tour, one of the soldiers lost his life bringing the total number from the Battalion killed in Afghanistan since 2002 to 16.

In 2010, Havering Council awarded the freedom of the Borough to the Royal Anglian Regiment and the parade is part of a celebration of that honour.

Havering also has strong links with the Royal Anglian Regiment and many residents have served with them.

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