RAF Marham station commander to move out of the flying game
Group Captain James Beck is approaching the end of his two year tenure as station commander at RAF Marham and has described his time at the base as an incredible job to do.
Marham is the home of the F-35 Lightning, a fifth Generation, multi-role, stealth fighter. The station is also home to a range of engineering support functions from maintenance to front-line support.
More than 3,600 service personnel, civil servants and contractors work at the airbase.
The US Marine Corps Squadron worked alongside 617 Squadron back in September where they embarked on HMS Queen Elizabeth to take part in Exercise Joint Warrior.
He started his role just before Covid made command a logistical nightmare.
He said: "It has been a massive journey with Covid filling a huge majority and our narrative was that defence is not bigger than the pandemic. We supported the NHS and hundreds of army personnel filled roles in the ambulance service, transportation and as 24/7 first responders."
Previously the 10 F-35B jets flew from their base in Yuma Arizona via MCAS Beaufort to visit the UK for the first time.
Marham became part of the Pathfinder force. and they also tested and proved the Oboe precision bombing aid. During March 1944, RAF Marham closed for the construction of new concrete runways, perimeter track, and dispersal areas, marking the end of its wartime operations.
Highlights of the station commander role, which has a strict two-year tenure, went beyond Group Capt Beck's expectation of military experience.
He said:"Making bold decisions in response to the pandemic was key. We made sure we were Covid safe and had low numbers on base. We locked down and were rigid about it. Luckily I have military personnel who like following orders."
Capt Beck joined up at the age of 21 and feels it is time he hangs up his wings and move out of the flying game.
Being a fighter pilot eventually it takes its toll and the body loses reactions working in a brutal environment, he said.
He said: "Most apparent in this job are the people. The responsibility on these young people's shoulders in the squadron, working with hi-tech computers, developing a jet and carrier, diagnosing the physics of landing a jet on the runway of a ship, exploring a working programme to successfully operate and live on a ship, their skill set is impressive."
Group Capt Beck has learnt never to expect the unexpected and soon to be leaving his post he said: "I want to thank King's Lynn and the community for their tremendous relationship, their support has been exceptional and they understand the importance of RAF Marham to the region."
A keen angler he would love to enjoy some extreme fishing before moving on to a strategic role and exciting times ahead.