Life-long soldier Captain Kevin Yarker is one of only two British soldiers to receive all four of the Queen’s Jubilee Medals, having served for almost 50 years. Kevin, of 102 Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (102 Bn REME), based in Newton Aycliffe Co Durham, was presented with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal (QPJM) by his Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Martin Leach, yesterday (Tues 21 Jun 22).
Kevin joined the Regular Army in November 1973 aged 17 and has served as both a Regular soldier and Reservist, and as a soldier and an officer, commissioning in 2006. After completing basic training he was assigned to an Anti-Tank Platoon in The Light Infantry. In 2013, he was appointed as the Permanent Staff Administration Officer (PSAO) of 124 Recovery Company 102 Bn REME on a Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS) commitment.
Having hung up his uniform in April, at the end of an astonishing 48-year career, Kevin, aged 66, said: “I am so proud and so privileged to be one of a few to receive all four of the Queen's Jubilee Medals. I have never thought about retirement and therefore I have no plans, my only thoughts were concentrated on serving my country.”
Kevin said: “When I completed the Army entrance test, I passed to be a Vehicle Mechanic. The Recruiter, a Sergeant in the Light Infantry, asked me what I wanted to join a Regiment or a Corps. I didn't have a clue about either, therefore my question was ‘what is the difference?’ The answer was, in a Regiment we all go around together and you keep your friends, in a Corps you are posted individually and lose touch with the friends you have made. Friendship and camaraderie go hand in hand therefore my choice was perfect soldiering.”
Kevin, who was born in Stockton On Tees, continued: “I originally wanted to join the British Army when I was 15, however, because I received a fine for going to the careers office on a scooter that I borrowed, and which I was not insured for and not old enough to ride, I eventually joined at the age of 17, which made me a young soldier. Earning just £5 a week and giving my Mum £3 meant that it took me nearly two years to pay off my fine, and you could not join the Army with a fine hanging over your head.
“I was born to be a soldier,” He said. “The Light Infantry turned me into a soldier and the REME gave me the opportunity to further my career. From age of being able to read I used to fill out the coupon in either the Radio Times or the TV Times and send it off to Lansdowne Rd in London. I joined the Light Infantry and after 22 weeks arduous training I became an Infantry Soldier Class 1.”
Queen’s Silver Jubilee - 1977
In recognition of attaining best student in an NCO Cadre in 1977 Kevin was presented with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal – one of only nine in the Battalion to receive the medal as, unlike future Jubilee Medals, it was not issued to all those serving at the time. He was subsequently awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in 1991.
Kevin said: “I have done four Operational tours of Northern Ireland, serving in Londonderry, Belfast, South Armagh and Belfast once more. I was called up for Iraq. However, due to being on a six-month course of chemotherapy due to having cancer, I fought to go but the Medical Officer would not allow me to go.”
Receiving the QSJM for coming joint top of an NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) cadre was his proudest achievement - with only 9000 awarded it is an achievement in itself as the Armed ,Forces were a bigger force back then.
Op OLYMPIC - 2012
On the disestablishment of his Battalion, under Options for Change in July 1992, Kevin, having reached the rank of Sergeant, left the Regular Army and took up civilian employment with the Military Guard Service. He joined 102 Bn REME, a Territorial Army Unit, as a REME Regimental Specialist where he rose through the ranks to become the Regimental Sergeant Major. In 2006, after an exemplary tour as Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) Kevin was successful in his application for commission.
Kevin held the appointments of Platoon Commander, Company 2IC and Quartermaster Technical within 102 Bn REME as well as mobilising on OP OLYMPIC in 2012 supporting the counter terrorist operations during the London Games.
Whilst serving in the Army Reserve Kevin has been awarded both the Queen’s Golden (2002) and Diamond (2012) Jubilee Medals and the Volunteer Reserve Service Medal with third clasp.
“I started my Army Career in the Light Infantry and later joined the REME and I would not change that for the world. The Army has changed and today I would not have the same enthusiasm as I did all those years ago. I joined the Army to serve my country and time was not of the essence. As mentioned earlier, I was born to be a soldier and time runs out with age.”
Kevin’s adult-life-long service came to an unblemished end in March, meaning he qualified for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal, making him one of only two who will receive all four Jubilee Medals. The QPJM now takes pride of place with his Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals.
About the QPJM*
To mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, a special commemorative medal is being awarded to serving frontline members of the police, fire, emergency services, prison services and the Armed Forces.
Acting as a token of the nation’s thanks, the Platinum Jubilee Medal follows a long history of awarding medals to mark Royal Jubilees, with the first one awarded to mark the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1887.
It is the fourth jubilee medal created for The Queen and the seventh official Jubilee medal to be awarded by a Monarch. Previous medals were officially awarded to celebrate The Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, Golden Jubilee in 2002 and Diamond Jubilee in 2012.