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March 31, 2011
On page 4 of the March
17 edition, the photograph
featured, left, should
have been attributed to
CPL Matthew McEwen.
Currently deployed to Al
Minhad Air Base, CPL
McEwen, a security police
member, took the image on
his own camera.
THE life of an extraordinary Air
Force woman, SQNLDR Kay Ellis,
was celebrated at RAAF Base Amber-
ley on March 9.
SQNLDR Ellis, who was an out-
spoken supporter of the families of
members who had lost their lives, died
from cancer on January 5.
CDF ACM Angus Houston deliv-
ered the eulogy.
"She was an inspiration and left
this world having truly made a differ-
ence to the lives of so many others,"
ACM Houston said.
CAF AIRMSHL Mark Binskin
said he first met SQNLDR Ellis in
1986 when he took her for a flight in
"During the pre-flight briefing and
strap-in, she was a bit anxious, but
once we were airborne I could imme-
diately hear in her voice that she was
having a ball.
"And after landing, you could see
her beaming smile and a bright light
burning in her eyes -- in fact it almost
lit up the night sky," AIRMSHL
"Our paths continued to cross at
various times throughout her career
and the thing that I always noticed
was that fire in her eyes -- and the
energy and strength of character that
ACM Houston said he first met
SQNLDR Ellis in 1983.
"Kay was a stunning young
woman who radiated confidence and
had an incredible zest for life," ACM
"Kay was my operations officer
and I was very fortunate to have her in
that role. She made my job easy -- she
was always three steps ahead of me
and always knew exactly what was
"She never missed a thing and was
someone I could rely on completely.
She knew how to get the best out of
Speaking of her life after the death
of her husband in the B-707 crash,
ACM Houston said she became a
great friend to many who had also lost
someone through a military accident.
"She developed an informal sup-
port network, and was of great solace
to other families," he said.
In 2002, CDF [then CAF] appoint-
ed SQNLDR Ellis as the RAAF Next-
of-Kin Relations Officer.
Not long after she compiled a
guide for Air Force commanders to
provide a personal insight into dealing
with bereaved families, followed by a
tri-service guide for commanders.
"Most of this work was com-
pleted while Kay was living with
cancer, but you would never have
known it. She was just as moti-
vated, energetic and spirited as
ever," ACM Houston said.
"I know that this book has
definitely had a positive impact
on the families of those service-
men and women that we have
"And that should be Kay's
greatest legacy -- no other
Defence family is going to have
to go through what she did."
to a true
TRIBUTES: A portrait
of SQNLDR Kay Ellis
loomed large at the
memorial service at
RAAF Base Amberley.
Photo: LACW Kylie Gibson
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