Flight Lieutenant Sarah-Jayne Mulvihill, aged 32, served as a Flight Operations Officer at Royal Air Force Benson.
Born in Canterbury, Sarah-Jayne joined the Royal Air Force as an airwoman in May 1997 and on completion of her basic training was posted to RAF Coningsby in October 1997.
An ambitious and extremely competent airwoman, her potential was quickly recognised and she was selected for Initial Officer Training in October 2001. Upon graduation in April 2002, she was commissioned into the Air Traffic Control Branch. Following a change in specialisation in March 2003, Sarah completed her Flight Operations Officer Training and was subsequently posted to RAF Northolt where she began her first commissioned tour as an Operations Officer. From here she deployed to Iraq for the first time.
Posted to RAF Benson in May 2005, she made an immediate and impressive impact as the Flight Operations Officer on 28 (AC) Sqn. She rapidly became a trusted and well-liked member of the team, and deployed to Kenya for an exercise in Autumn 2005. Here she worked closely with the British Army controlling an exercise for the Royal Air Force Merlin helicopters, whilst taking the Army on in every sense. She outran them in the ‘morning mile’ and shone brightly as a strong staff officer amongst the Army’s best. Sarah-Jayne was keen to again put her knowledge and experience to the test and she returned to Iraq in the operations officer role earlier this year.
Group Captain Duncan Welham, Station Commander Royal Air Force Benson, said of her:
"Sarah-Jayne was one of the Royal Air Force’s finest: courageous, upbeat and unselfish. She was a dedicated officer who will be missed by us all.
"Whilst at Benson Sarah-Jayne’s lively character and commitment to colleagues and friends made her extremely popular both in the workplace and across the wider station community. There was nothing that she would not tackle and her contribution to all aspects of life and work was actively sought, valued and appreciated. She was a keen sportswoman who enjoyed running, rowing and football. She leaves behind a devoted husband Lee, also in the Royal Air Force."
Her husband, Lee, released the following statement:
"Sarah was my best friend and my most beloved wife. She was also an adored daughter and sister, highly loved and respected by all who had the pleasure of knowing her.
"Her love of sport and outdoor activities was only outshone by her commitment to the Royal Air Force, of which she and I are extremely proud to be part.
"Her loss has greatly affected and impacted on more people than anyone can comprehend.
"On behalf of her close family and friends we would like to express our gratitude and heartfelt thanks to all those people who have expressed their sympathy at this most difficult of times whilst also wishing to thank all in the MOD, at every level, for their most gracious respect and support.
"It is at this time that we would also like, and request, that all media respect our family and friends' privacy, allowing us to grieve for a most wonderful person."