THE proud dad of two soldiers has urged the people of Basildon to turn out in force to support the Royal Anglians on their homecoming parade.
Stephen Wynn, 53, a PC based at Basildon, said the sight of beaming crowds in the town centre would mean the world to the troops who will be returning home from their final tour of Afghanistan.
Stephen, who has two sons - Royal Marine Luke and Ross, who serves with the parachute regiment - has himself had to endure the sleepless nights that come with having two sons on the frontline in Afghanistan. Both have also been shot while on duty.
The constable wrote about his experience in the book Two Sons in a War Zone: Afghanistan - the True Story of a Father’s Conflict.
Now, he is urging people to support the Royal Anglians, Stephen said: “In my experience all members of the military, in which ever branch they serve, don't see themselves as heroes.
“They go off to war, most of them as no more than kids still in their teens. They return as adults having done their duty.
“They ask for nothing in return, they seek no fame or glory for what they've done, but they do deserve our utmost respect.
“Remember, they are the few who "provide the very blanket of freedom" under which we sleep at night. That should never be forgotten or taken for granted by any of us.”
He added: “For me the Royal Anglians’ return is very poignant as next month one of my sons returns to Afghanistan for a third time - time to shave off my hair again.
“Being cheered and clapped as they march through Basildon town centre by ordinary members of the public - people who they don't even know - will mean a great deal to them.
“Knowing that people care is important to all of us. They are no different.”
The Royal Anglians will be march through Basildon town centre on Thursday November 8. The parade will begin outside Toys ‘R’ Us in Southernhay at 12.30pm, going through the town and reaching St Martin’s Square by 12.40pm.