Derek Blevins joined the Corps in 1955, and by 1965 was a Sergeant, Heavy Weapons Instructor (HW1), serving in 41 Commando RM at Bickleigh Camp in Devon. He was the second Royal Marines SNCO to attend the School of Army Aviation at Middle Wallop in July 1965, and was awarded his Wings on 7 April 1966 with No. 178 Pilots Course.
He was immediately posted to 45 Commando RM, who were based in Aden, and helped to form their first Air Troop of 3 x Sioux AH1 Helicopters. In 1967 he was posted to 41 Commando RM Air Troop, who were based at Roborough Airport, Plymouth, Devon with 3 x Sioux AH1 Helicopters.
In July 1968 Derek was selected to attend Central Flying School (Helicopters) at RAF Tern Hill, where he became the first Royal Marines SNCO B2 Qualified Helicopter Instructor (QHI). He was posted to the School of Army Aviation, Middle Wallop in October 1968 as an instructor on the Sioux Conversion Flight. In January 1969 he was promoted to Colour Sergeant, and in the October of that year to Quarter Master Sergeant. He was upgraded to a B1 QHI in June 1969, and in July 1970 attended the Central Flying School at RAF Tern Hill where he qualified as an A2 QHI. In March 1970 he qualified as a Scout AH1 pilot.
The Corps policy of the day, of returning pilots to the 'main' Corps on Ground Tours, resulted in September 1970 of a posting to 42 Commando RM, based in Singapore. Derek was the Company Sergeant Major (CSM) of M Company; the first time he had served in a Rifle Company. The Company Commander was Major TJP Murphy RM, (later to be OC 3 Cdo Bde Air Sqn) also on a ground tour, and one of the other M Company officers was Lt Rob Wilsey (also destined to be OC 3 Cdo Bde Air Sqn). Derek returned to Bickleigh Barracks, Devon with 42 Commando RM in June 1971, and in September 1971 was posted to 3 Cdo Bde Air Sqn, now based at Coypool, Plymouth, as the Squadron QHI. He qualified as a Scout AH1 QHI A2 in November 1971.
In January 1972 Derek attended the first practical Special Duties (SD) Commissioning Course at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines at Lympstone. He was commissioned a Lieutenant (SD) in March 1972, winning the Sword of Honour. Derek returned to flying duties, but another ground tour inevitably followed in July of 1972, but as the Staff Officer in 3 Cdo Bde Air Sqn! Posting Officers do have a sense of humour!
In May 1973 Derek was selected to be the Royal Marines representative on the Gazelle Intensive Flying Trials Unit based at the School of Army Aviation, Middle Wallop. On completion of the trials he transferred to the Demonstration and Trials Squadron AAC, and subsequently became an instructor on the Gazelle Conversion Flight. One of his students was the Director AAC, Brigadier Sutcliffe.
In February 1975 Derek was posted back to 3 Cdo Bde Air Sqn at Coypool as the Sqn QHI, where he remained until his retirement from the Corps in May 1977.
Derek then followed Sgts Dave Duncan, Steve Watson, Paul Braithwaite, and Terry Murphy to serve as a Flight Lieutenant in the Sultan of Oman's Air Force as an AB 205 (Huey) pilot. He was accompanied by Captain Duncan Macmillan RM who was the 3 Cdo Bde Air Sqn Senior Pilot. After 3 years in Oman he joined the Royal Air Force, and finally retired, after 13 years service, as a Supply Branch Squadron Leader, in 1993. He lived in Wimborne in Dorset, and was a member of Poole Royal Marines Association.
Sadly Derek died in November 2009. His funeral was well attended by former colleagues and a Gazelle from AAC Historic Flight provided a fitting fly past.