Old Mansfield schoolpals meet in Helmand

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TWO school friends from Ollerton have met up in Afghanistan 22 years after leaving school.

Regimental Sergeant Majors Dave Triandafilou and Dave Youngs met when they were just 10 years old at Sherwood Hall Upper School and since leaving have met during Army operations around the world.

Now 39-year-old Warrant Officer First Class (WO1) Triandafilou, of 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment, has handed over the reins of his current job in Helmand to his old school friend.

WO1 Youngs, of 2nd Battalion the Rifles, has taken on the Regimental Sergeant Major duties in the 3/215 Afghan National Army (ANA) Corps Brigade to mentor their soldiers.

Father-of-three WO1 Youngs, (also 39), said: “It is reassuring to be taking over from Dave. We have known each other since we were 10 and always meet up in the strangest of places - Iraq, Afghanistan in 2009 and now. Happily I seem to be aging better.”

“I am looking forward to working with the ANA as we move towards transition and handing over complete control to them.

“I have only been in Afghanistan for a few weeks but I have already seen the dramatic change in the ANA since I was last here.”

Father-of-one WO1 Triandafilou has served 22 years and completed tours in Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

He said: “It is now less kinetic in Afghanistan and my role here has changed dramatically compared to previous tours. It is now about mentoring and advising the ANA so they can take control.”