Afghan evacuation soldier felt ‘goosebumps’ at first Cenotaph parade

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A soldier who was involved in the evacuation of Afghanistan has described feeling “goosebumps” at attending the Remembrance Sunday parade at the Cenotaph for the first time.

Lance Corporal May Percival, of the 23 Royal Engineer Regiment, usually watches the ceremony on television.

“I always watch it on the TV on the Sunday,” she said.

“To be here just gives me goosebumps, it’s just amazing.”

The 22-year-old described the evacuation of Afghanistan “as difficult but also rewarding”.

She added: “Every time you saw an aircraft leave you were just overwhelmed that you had helped those individuals get out and be given a better future.”

It was also RAF Nurse Officer Stephen Andor’s first time attending the parade.

His grandfather fought as part of the west African colonial troops in the Burma campaign during the Second World War.

“I always watch it on the telly”, he said. “It means a lot for me.”

Nurse Officer Andor was deployed to Sierra Leone in 2015 to help treat Ebola patients. He now works at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine.

He added: “I think it’s right and proper to come here today and pay respect to every single member for that they did.”

Unlike Lance Corporal Percival and Nurse Officer Andor, Royal Navy Petty Officer Ben Shread was no stranger to the ceremony. It was the veteran combat photographer‘s second time at the Cenotaph.

When he was last here, in 2019, he was working as the Prime Minister’s official photographer.

“It’s an awe-inspiring place to be”, he said. “I would recommend any veteran or service person to come and visit it at least once in their life.”

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