Medal arrives at last for Falklands’ veteran sailor

Mark Herron with his medal outside Collingwood House at Morpeth.'REF 0203157574
Mark Herron with his medal outside Collingwood House at Morpeth.'REF 0203157574

A proud veteran has finally received a war service medal, almost 33 years after the conflict.

Former Royal Navy man Mark Herron has at last received the South Atlantic Medal for his service in the immediate aftermath of the Falklands War in 1982.

Mr Herron, who is originally from Loansdean in Morpeth, but now lives in Gosforth, joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16 after leaving King Edward VI School.

One of his early postings in the force was to serve on the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, which was sent to the Falklands to relieve HMS Invincible, and Mr Herron celebrated his 18th birthday en-route to the war-zone.

“It was all just an adventure at that age,” he said.

“There were one or two hairy moments. The war was officially over when we arrived, but they were still sending planes out to us and we were having to scramble our Harriers to see them off.”

The ship arrived in the Falklands in August 1982, two months after the end of the war.

Initially, the South Atlantic Medal was only awarded to those who had served in the region during the fighting. However, a review in 2012 extended the qualifying period up to October 1982 in recognition of the continuing risks in the area.

And Mr Herron’s medal proved to be a perfect Valentine’s Day gift when it arrived last month.

“Thirty-three years later, on Valentine’s Day, I received my medal for the Falklands,” he said.

It has been quite a wait, but it was a very proud moment.

Mark Herron.

“It has been quite a wait, but it was a very proud moment.

“You had to apply for it so I knew it would be coming, but I didn’t know when it would arrive. Coming on Valentine’s Day, it outdid my partner’s card a bit.”

Following his service in the Falklands, Mr Herron went on to serve on various ships at bases up and down the country, between Portsmouth and Scotland, and travelled around Europe and the United States.

He left the forces after nine years to join the care sector and is currently working at a residential home for people with learning disabilities.

There will be a formal ceremony to recognise the latest medal recipients in Portsmouth next month.