RAF Group Captain Neil Laird, a former pupil of Forfar Academy, has attended a ceremony at Windsor Castle where he received his Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) from the Queen.
Group Captain Laird, known as Nick, was accompanied by his wife, Donna-Louise, his daughter Helen and his parents Ivan and Beth from Justinhaugh, on the outskirts of Forfar.
The former pupil of Wellbrae Primary School, who was also an active member of Tannadice Scouts, was honoured for a history-making leadership role in Afghanistan.
He has done two front line tours in the war-torn nation. In the latest, from April to September 2010, he became the first senior officer to conduct combined UK/US aviation operations over a long period. His success saw him receive the CBE with just two other recipients.
Group Captain Laird was deployed to Afghanistan as Commander Joint Aviation Group (COMJAG), with 40 aircraft of six different types and from five forces.
They supported UK units engaged in highly kinetic operations and he oversaw complete integration with the US Marine Wing while protecting and enhancing UK equity.
His CBE citation recognised his “excellence as a commander, aviator and diplomat.”
Group Captain Laird has also served in Iraq and Northern Ireland. His RAF career also included command of 230 Squadron at Aldergrove in Northern Ireland. During that posting he made a special return to his alma mater when he landed an RAF Puma helicopter on the Academy playing fields.
During his visit pupils were treated to a flight over the town. He made a return visit in 2006 to present the awards at the school’s prize-giving.