Sgt Gary Quilliam

Also known as: 'Q'.


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Sergeant Gary Quilliam, who died on 2 September, 2006, aged 42, was a popular Weapon System Operator serving in Afghanistan with Royal Air Force Kinloss. On 2 September, 2006, he was taking part in a major offensive against the Taliban near Kandahar when the Nimrod MR2 aircraft he was flying in crashed, killing Sgt Quilliam and 11 other RAF Kinloss personnel.
Sgt Quilliam, known as 'Q' to his friends, was a well-loved member of RAF Kinloss described as a real 'character' by his colleagues. He was able to lighten any situation with his warm personality, dry wit and infectious sense of humour.
A member of RAF Kinloss for almost 20 years, Sgt Quilliam served in various different units including Intelligence before returning to the front line position he loved the most.
He was also a skilled diver who shared his experience and enthusiasm for the sport as the Kinloss club instructor.
Gary Paul Quilliam was born in Flixton, Lancashire in January, 1964. His family said that he had always wanted to join the RAF since reading the Biggles novels when he was seven.
As a child, he religiously stood to attention whenever he heard the national anthem and he watched his elder brother Craig join the Navy and serve in the Falklands.
Sgt Quilliam began to realise his RAF ambition at the age of 13 when he became an Air Training Corps cadet. His early talents won him a scholarship to get his pilot's licence at the age of 17, before he even had a driving licence.
He joined the RAF in January, 1986, and completed his Basic Recruit Training at Royal Air Force Swinderby. He then undertook his Initial Aircrew Training at No 6 Flying Training School, RAF Finningley, where he gained his Air Electronics Operator qualification.
In January, 1989, Sgt Quilliam completed his final stage of training in the No 236 Operational Conversational Unit at RAF St Mawgan and was posted to No 206 Squadron at Royal Air Force Kinloss.
Sgt Quilliam was made an instructor at the RAF Kinloss Simulator Squadron in February, 1993. He stayed in the post for two and a half years, returning to No 206 Squadron in August, 1995.
Between April, 2003, and March, 2006, Sgt Quilliam worked in the Intelligence Section at RAF Kinloss before resuming his post on No 120 Squadron in May, 2006, shortly before deploying to Afghanistan.
It was Sgt Quilliam's third tour of duty on the Nimrod MR2.
Sgt Quilliam was a devoted family man who leaves behind his wife Rayna and daughter Angela, born in 1993. The family lived in Forres, Moray.
Angela paid tribute at his funeral, saying: "Dad was one of the best things that happened to me. He always wanted the best for me. He will be in my heart for eternity. His soul is watching over us."
His widow, Rayna Quilliam, said: "Gary was the most kind, gentle, generous-natured man anyone could know. Gary always wanted children as much as I did and together we are so proud of our angel who was sent from heaven."
Sgt Quilliam's sister Stephanie said: "We are drawing strength from the fact he died doing what he loved to do. He died a hero. The forces are working to protect us from terrorism. People going about their daily lives forget what they are doing for our freedom and to prevent acts of terrorism."
His father John added: "He was so proud of the RAF. He just wanted to fly. What happened was such a terrible, terrible tragedy. He accepted that there were dangers. That was part of his career."
A day of mourning was declared at RAF Kinloss.
Station Commander Group Captain Chris Birks expressed his sadness at the tragedy: "I am very deeply saddened about the deaths of 12 air crew from Royal Air Force Kinloss in a Nimrod accident over Afghanistan. All 12 were from Number 120 Squadron based here at Kinloss. All were long serving and experienced air crew.
"As well as first class personnel these were colleagues and friends of myself and my other personnel. The station is in mourning."
Wing Commander Martin Cannard, Officer Commanding 120 Squadron, said: "120 Squadron has suffered a profound loss. We have lost good friends and colleagues, many known personally to us over many years. I have been humbled by the commitment and determination of all of my people to do all that they can for those that have lost loved ones and friends and this will be our sole focus in the coming days."

Added by: Courtesy of the Daily Telegraph on 1st November 2010.

 

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Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund
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