An RAF warrant officer who served in both Gulf wars and in Afghanistan has been made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours.
Frank Sinclair was brought up in Lerwick but left the isles in 1979 aged 16 to join the air force. He has notched up 37 years of continuous – and exemplary – service since.
And the former Anderson High School pupil said finding out the honour was to be bestowed upon him ranked among his biggest achievements.
“It’s right up there,” he said. “It is a huge honour to be awarded an MBE.”
Mr Sinclair said although the award was only officially revealed last night, he had a phone call from his station’s commanding officer on Christmas Day to let him know.
“I was very, very pleased,” said the 53-year-old. “It is very hard to get an MBE, but I have been in [the air force] for quite a while with good conduct and exemplary service.
“There’s always a chance you will get nominated.”
However, keeping his award secret from his wife, Liz, was a big challenge. He said: “It’s a bit of a burden.”
Mr Sinclair’s first posting as a teenager was to RAF Kinloss on the Moray Firth working on Nimrods – an aircraft used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
His next posting was to RAF Odiham in Hampshire, England, working on Chinook helicopters. He then spent four years in Germany on Tornados before returning to Kinloss for three years.
Since 1995 Mr Sinclair, who has several family members still living in Lerwick, has been based at Odiham which, according to the RAF is “a front line support helicopter base working within the Joint Helicopter Command”. His main duties have centred around working on the Chinooks.
The versatile helicopters are the “main platform for moving the army”, said Mr Sinclair. They also have emergency response capabilities and can even be used as a “emergency operating theatre”, the RAF states on its website.
Chinooks were used heavily in Afghanistan.
Asked if his service in various war zones was particularly challenging Mr Sinclair said: “It’s part and parcel of the job”.
Perhaps that is a sign of a no-nonsense attitude that has helped him through a long military career.
He has around another 16 months to serve in the air force before he is “officially old”