NEWS

JULY 2ND 2019

Nottingham Reserve set to retire after 25 years in Parachute Squadron

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Mike on a boat during a waterborne exercise

An Intensive Care Nurse from Nottingham has talked about the incredible experiences the Army Reserve has given him as he retires after more than 25 years of Service.

Major Mike Orpen, aged 60, joined the Reserves in 1991 and has had a distinguished career in 144 Parachute Medical Squadron, where he has been on several international deployments and has commanded the Detachment  amongst many other incredible achievements that he says would encourage him to ‘do it all again’. 

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Getting ready to parachute during an aiborne exercise

Mike said: “I’d do it all again, I’d literally do it all again. If I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t have stayed in for so long, this I think goes back to the experiences, the camaraderie and the education within the Reserve Forces. 

“I think it’s given me confidence. It’s developed me not only with regards to using my skills from the NHS but they’ve been transferable to the military to the greater benefit of Service personnel. The skills I’ve developed in the military also support my NHS role and I think the last 29 years would have been very different for me without my military experiences.”

During his time in the Reserves Mike has taken part in exercises in the USA, deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and has taken advantage  of unique adventure training opportunities but Mike doesn’t recognise any of these as his greatest achievement.

He explained: “My greatest achievement was completing Pegasus Company which enabled me to go on and do my basic parachute course which then opened up opportunities for me to go on airborne exercises and deployments.” 

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Mike during one of his overseas deployments

As well taking part in multiple parachute jumps in the UK Mike has also earned his American and German Wings by taking part in parachute jumps in both countries. 

Mike does think that the friends he has made in the Reserves and the attitude is really important, he said: “There’s people that I keep in contact with that have moved on from the unit and I think that the people you meet on deployments you always have a connection with.

“I couldn’t see many civilian careers leading to sitting in a field with someone you barely know in the pouring rain and cold yet the conversation you’re having is a good one because from working and living together you build up a strong bond and friendship.” 

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Over the years Mike has taken part in many adventurous training activites

As he reflects on his career in the Reserves Mike also highlights the importance of future recruits and has some words of encouragement for them.

He said: “I can’t think of any negatives from Reserve Service, it’s just a win, win, win the whole time. I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking to do something in their spare time that feels both rewarding and meaningful.” 

“I can’t think of any negatives from Reserve Service, it’s just a win, win, win the whole time. I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking to do something in their spare time that feels both rewarding and meaningful.”