Jonny Priest is Guest of Honour at Survival Graduation

Last month Jonny ‘JP’ Priest DFC, our director of operations, was invited to be the guest of honour at the latest Aircrew Survive, Evade, Resist, Extract (SERE) course graduation at RAF Cranwell.

The course teaches aviators from across Defence the basic principles and priorities of survival. Students are taught what to do, how to think and how to use survival equipment in the event of an incident that may lead to them being isolated. They undertake a rigorous training schedule and come away with skills including fire lighting; building shelters; finding, building and preserving water and food and how to psychologically cope with the challenges they face.

At the end of each course, a guest of honour is invited to present students with their graduation certificates and to speak to them about challenges they faced. All of the guests have been bestowed awards for bravery during their careers – including JP.

This particular training cohort – Permissive Land Survival Course 01/20 – was made up of 24 students with a mix of pilots, weapon systems operators and ISTAR specialists from both the Royal Air Force and Army Air Corps. JP was invited to speak to the students just hours after they had returned from their training, which had taken place during a particularly cold and wet week in January!

JP with the 24 graduates of Permissive Land Survival Course 01/20

JP spoke to the trainees about his career as a whole and the series of events that led to him being awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). He spoke of the challenge of leadership on operations and the importance of cooperation across the services on joint operations.

During an exchange with the Army Air Corps in his time flying the Lynx Mk 7, JP was detached to Kenya in support of Army training. Whilst there, him and his unit were called upon to support Operation Barras which had been initiated to rescue soldiers from the Royal Irish Regiment who were being held captive in the jungle by an armed militia group known as the West Side Boys.

JP was awarded a DFC for his leadership and bravery during the rescue mission in which he flew a lynx Helicopter in a close air support role, supporting the units on the ground and the RAF Chinooks who recovered the soldiers.  

JP left the students with the advice: “Treat every tour as your last and you will have an amazing time”.

Congratulations to all of the graduates and we wish you the best of luck for your future military careers – we are sure our paths will cross again!

JP signing the SERE wall of honour.

All images MoD Crown Copyright 2020, with thanks to Mr Gordon elias.