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Personnel serving at RAF Marham are the first to ever be awarded the Freedom of Downham Market.

The town council decided to bestow the honour as part of yesterday’s homecoming parade and medal presentations in Downham.

Members of IX(B) Squadron were welcomed to the market town as they returned to the area after a four-month deployment to Afghanistan.

A parade was due to be held in the town centre yesterday evening before medals were presented marking the tour of operations as part of Operation Herrick.

“Downham Market Town Council is extremely proud of the close ties that exist between the town and RAF Marham. In recognition of IX(B) Squadron’s homecoming parade being held in Downham on Thursday. It is the third such occasion in the past four years.

“The town council is delighted to bestow Downham Market’s inaugural Freedom of the Town upon IX(B) Squadron,” said a statement from the council.

“I can think of no finer recipient than IX(B) Squadron to be awarded the first ever Freedom of the Town,” said Mayor, John Doyle.

The squadron has handed-over its responsibility of the final deployment to Afghanistan to colleagues in 31 Squadron, also based at Marham.

The West Norfolk base is likely to be called into further action this week as this country is set to join the international campaign to bomb  Islamic militants.

If the UK does join the USA and other nations in the bombing of terrorists within Iraq, it is likely that Marham’s planes will be very much involved.

The UK Parliament has been recalled today to discuss the country’s role in targeting Islamic State militants with air strikes.

The United States said that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar had all taken part in, or supported, air strikes carried out this week.

Speaking on Tuesday, Prime Minister David Cameron said an international coalition was needed to destroy Islamic State.

Tornados at RAF Marham are due to be replaced by the new Lightning II fighter in 2018.