Paul was commissioned into the Royal Marines on 1 November 1966 as a member of the last entry of the Special Entry Flying Duties Scheme. (SE(F)). After completing modified Y.O. training at RMB Deal and CTCRM and a brief attachment to 40 Commando in the Far East, Flying Training commenced on 137 HSP course with the eventual award of FAA Wings in July 1968.
1968-1970, First Squadron, 848 embarked in ALBION and BULWARK – SP and then CO Capt Mick Reece – Other Royal Marines included Angus Gordon, John Galbraith, Jim Booth, Martin Jones, Peter Allen, John Skillern and Roger Blundell.
1970-1972, Lossiemouth SAR, flying the Whirlwind Mk7 and Mk9 When HMS Fulmar closed in 1972 flew the last ever flight before it became an RAF Station.
1972, QHI course at RAF Ternhill, then onto 707 Squadron (1973-1974) now at Yeovilton where the Junglies had recently moved from Culdrose.
1975-1977, 829 Squadron, Wasp Flight Cdr. – followed in the footsteps of Bob Evans to fly the Wasp but believed to be the first RM Survey Pilot – Operated as a one man Junglie Sqn – ship support, pax and stores transfer and aerial survey photography using both the F49 for vertical photography and the Hasselblad for obliques.
1977-1979, back to Jungie flying and 845 Squadron as training officer and TO2 to Clockwork (Norway winter training for air/ground crews). Mid tour moved to 707 Squadron as Clockwork training officer (TO1) – promoted Captain RM
1979-1982, RAF exchange in Germany. Firstly with 18 Squadron – Wessex 2. After a year moved to 230 Squadron – exchange tour continued on Puma HC1. Appointed as Flight Commander. Total of 3½ years in Germany. Unable to persuade appointer that he should go to the Falklands.
1982-1984, Returned to UK and to 707 Squadron as Senior Pilot – oversaw introduction of full training documentation and standardisation of SK4 training into 707 – whilst continuing to run WX5 courses. (Post Falklands SK4 had been operating to ad hoc SK2 procedures)
1984-1986, moved to 846 Squadron (SK4) as Senior Pilot – authored Commando Squadron Field SOPs – adopted by Commando Operation Support Cell (CHOSC) [now CHF] to be used by all squadrons conducting field operations in support of 3 Cdo Bde. During this period flew Wessex 5 from Lympstone to Yeovilton with Col Mick Reece (first RM to command RN Squadron since the War) on his retirement from the Corps.
1987-1989, Appointed to 845 Squadron as Commanding Officer – resisted pressure to persuade him to transfer to RN before taking command! Second RM to command RN Squadron since the War, some 18 years after Captain Reece. Awarded AFC (1987).
In Nov 1988 having been the last survivor of the SE(F) scheme for some time, found himself under increased pressure to transfer to the RN. Despite having represented the Corps for some 20 years at every level of FAA aviation he drew no support (quite the opposite) from this quarter in his bid to remain within the Royal Marines. He therefore reluctantly transferred as a Lt Cdr completing the final 9 months of his 2½ year Command in Dark Blue.
1989-1991, Saw the first of the inevitable staff appointments as SAVO (Staff Aviation Officer) to COMAW (Commodore Amphibious Warfare) – ironic that this first staff appointment should be in the heart of the Royal Marines at RMB Stonehouse. Seconded to FONA as SH Rep in PJHQ for Gulf War
1991-1993, Appointed as SOCH (Staff Officer Commando Helicopters) to FONA (Flag Officer Naval Aviation) – heavily involved in the recovery after the Gulf War and re entry to NI operations with SK4
1993-1995, Having been passed over it was back to flying and 707 Squadron as a line QHI. Planned and organised the re-numbering of 707 to 848 Squadron. It was perhaps apposite that during his final flying appointment he should be instrumental in recreating his first Squadron as also his last!
1995-1998, Became the Air Training Officer at Yeovilton and responsible for a myriad of Air Courses, Potential Officer courses and many holdover Officers waiting to enter or rejoin the training pipeline. All running from the universally recognised JOAC building.
1998-2006, In 1998 the ATO post was civilianised and Paul continued as an RO2 having retired in Dec 1998 just in time to apply for the post.
2006- present, moved jobs to become member of the standing (F) roster and is still serving at Yeovilton as DLC(F) or in the current terminology Duty Flying Supervisor. A shift oriented post which involves anti-social hours, on call commitments and responsibility in the Post Crash Management organisation to be the MOD Incident Officer.