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"THEY RE KEEPING THEIR PROMISE TO MY DAD."
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY
AIR FORCE November 26, 2009
By WGCDR Steve Edwards
MEMORIES from more than five
decades ago came flooding back for
19 members of No. 2 RAAF National
Service Intake 1951-52 during their
reunion visit to RAAF Base William-
town last month.
In November 1951, approximately 70
18-year-olds arrived at Williamtown to
commence their training as Aircraftman
In those days, Williamtown was an
isolated station surrounded by farmland.
The road leading to the base was one
lane either way and in poor repair.
"But the peaceful rural silence was
broken by the roars of Mustangs and
Vampires," said Bill Widerberg, one of
the reunion group.
"We thought we were pretty spe-
cial because National Service in the Air
Force and Navy, but not in the Army
where most undertook training, was
dependant on each recruit volunteering
for overseas service if required.
"Of course, some of the glamour of
Air Force life was diminished by the
luxurious accommodation on offer
-- eight to a room in Quonset huts with
wire frame beds," he said.
Other members of the reunion group
remembered their Monday night forays
into Newcastle on the motorcycles that
a few of the recruits owned at the time.
Less popular were memories of kitchen
duties at the Sergeants' Mess, the usual
reward for poor uniform turnout or an
During their visit the veterans
enjoyed lunch at the Officers' Mess
and viewed Hornet and Hawk flightline
Despite the passing of so many years,
their pride in having worn the Air Force
uniform was clear for all to see.
unite after 50 years
By FLTLT Skye Smith
AN IMPORTANT chapter of
Air Force history closed last month
when former and current female
serving personnel came together at
the final Newcastle Women's Auxil-
iary Australian Air Force (WAAAF)
WOFF Jen Riches who was from
381 Expeditionary Combat Support
Squadron (381ECSS) at RAAF Base
Williamtown, an honorary member of
the Newcastle WAAAF Association,
said it was a day of remembrance for
all the ladies who had served since the
formation of the WAAAF in 1941 and
during the war years.
"It means a lot to the ladies of the
WAAAF to have current and ex-serv-
ing WAAAF and RAAF members
attend the luncheon and acknowledge
this special occasion," she said.
Association President Del Bennett
proposed a toast to WOFF Riches for
all her friendship, work and assistance
over the years.
"I will cherish the memories and
friendship for a lifetime," Ms Bennett
Many of the ladies had to gain
their parents' permission to join the
WAAAF and set out on their adven-
tures back in the '40s.
"We are a little bit older, but we
are still those young girls who think
about panic nights, parades and mus-
terings," Ms Bennett said.
"We have formed many special
friendships over the years. There has
WAAAF honoured AIR FORCE BAND
November 26: The Ceremonial
Band will support the 2FTS Pilots'
Course graduation parade at RAAF
Base Pearce from 11am.
November 27: Force10 will sup-
port the Seniors Christmas Event
at Melbourne Town Hall from
November 29: Force10 will per-
form at Stage 2 of the Point Cook
Town Centre opening.
December 2: The Ceremonial
Band will support the 1RTU
graduation parade at RAAF Base
Wagga from 11am.
December 4: The Ceremonial
Band will support the School of
Air Warfare graduation parade at
RAAF Base East Sale from 11am.
December 5: The Ceremonial
Band will support the 21SQN
Initial Training graduation parade
at RAAF Williams, Point Cook,
December 5: The Band will
provide musical support to the
21SQN dining-in night at the
RAAF Williams, Point Cook
December 6: The Band will
support the RAAF Williams
Sergeants' Mess Christmas Raffle
December 8: The Air Force Wind
Quintet will give a free perform-
ance at the RAAF Museum, Point
Cook, from 12pm.
always been someone to listen and
"The service bond is very strong
and it is priceless. It brought us
together and it is enduring."
The women reminisced about
panic nights, rookies and bad rations
as they shared stories over lunch.
SGT Elizabeth Lawson from
RAAF Base Richmond and CPL
Tricia Reynolds from 381ECSS spoke
on behalf of the serving females who
were at the luncheon.
"From the bottom of my heart,
thank you for allowing me to have
the career that I have and for all the
females currently serving in the Air
Force," SGT Lawson said.
"You wonderful ladies stood up
during the war years and paved the
way for all of us to serve our beauti-
SGT Lawson is one of only a
few females who have attained the
rank of SGT in her field as an air-
craft technician, while CPL Reynolds
was the first female military working
dog handler when she graduated in
1994. She became the second female
to deploy with her working dog when
she served in Timor.
"The WAAAF added noble pages
to the history of Australian woman-
hood. All Australian citizens pos-
sessing a true sense of values would
remember the work of the WAAAF
with pride and gratitude," WOFF
Riches said in closing.
"This is a sad day being the final
reunion of the Association. History
will record the magnificent part
played by the WAAAF."
WOMEN'S FORCE: SGTs Rachel Devlin and Rebecca Henderson from 26SQN join WAAAF members at the
final Newcastle WAAAF reunion luncheon.
Photo: courtesy SGT Devlin
TOGETHER AGAIN: Members of No. 2 RAAF National Service Intake 1951-
52 with host officer WGCDR Steve Edwards (far left) in front of a PC-9 aircraft
at RAAF Base Williamtown.
Photo: ACW Katharine Pearson
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