UK’s oldest serving soldier turns 50 while stationed in Afghanistan

July 12, 2013

The UK’s oldest serving soldier, a dog trainer with the Territorial Army, has turned 50 while serving in Afghanistan. A July 10 report by Express News UK interview gives an in-depth look at what life is like for the senior soldier.

Sergeant Graeme Oliver celebrated his 50th birthday this week with the 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment. This unit is a specialist regiment of the British Army’s Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) responsible for counter-terrorist Explosive Ordnance Disposal.
Graeme is a dog trainer of IED dogs, but he’s also a father and a grandfather. From Dalton, Cumbria, Graeme has five children, the youngest being 11 and the oldest 24. He also has a young grandson. It’s believed Graeme is the oldest serving military member in the UK.

Graeme was posted to Afghanistan on March 3 after being given a going away party by his wife Carol.

He’s had a difficult time dealing with the heat and has lost close to three stone since his arrival. His days are long, often beginning at 5:30 am and not ending until 9 pm. Graeme contributes his weight loss to running with the dogs in full body armor, where he calls that part of his job “hard but beneficial.”

Graeme has also completed two tours in Iraq with the Territorial Army. He was first mobilized in November 2012, originally with 2 Lancs based at Weeton. Then he was transferred to 11EOD (Electronic Ordnance Division) in January as part of the MWD United based in Leicestershire.

His family is planning a celebration when Graeme comes home in September. It’s been very hard on them missing such an important birthday milestone. Carol stated in an interview with Express,

“It’s not been an easy thing for us to go through and with it being a special birthday it’s harder. It’s especially difficult for the youngest as she doesn’t know any children in the same situation.”

Once he returns home in September, he’ll have to spend a week doing decompression. Then it’s back home where he’ll have a month for operational tour leave. Graeme says he wants a cold beer and to see some greenery since there’s not much greenery in a combat zone.

Until September, this father and grandfather will continue to serve his country as a soldier and dog trainer. Well done, Graeme. You’ve shown that older men are still very much needed in today’s military.

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