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July 7, 2011
THE service and sacrifice of
a RAAF hero and 2200 more
Australians who were killed in the
fighting in WWII in New Guinea
was remembered on May 20.
The six Air Force personnel
deployed aboard USS Cleveland
as part of Pacific Partnership
2011 joined Director General
Joint Exercises and Evaluations
at Headquarters Joint Operations
Command AIRCDRE David
Steele, US Navy RADM Sean
Buck and Army and US Navy per-
sonnel at a wreath-laying ceremony
at Lae War Cemetery.
The RAAF hero was pilot
FLTLT William Newton, VC, who
was awarded the medal for his
fearless flying and attempts to land
his stricken Boston aircraft as far
as possible from Japanese forces
after being shot down on a bomb-
ing raid on Salamaua.
He was executed on March
29, 1943. He was the only RAAF
recipient of the medal in the Pacific
Also recognised was LT
Albert Chowne, who won the VC,
as well as the Military Medal. LT
Chowne was killed in 1945 while
single-handedly attacking two
Japanese machine gun posts, sav-
ing his platoon and opening the
way for the 6th Division attack
During the memorial ser-
vice, AIRCDRE Steele said: "It
is important to remember that
although we're here to recognise
two people in particular, everyone
lying here is a hero."
He read a brief biography of
the two men before he and RADM
Buck laid wreaths.
RADM Buck said it was wonder-
ful that people paid their respects
and never forgot those who gave
their lives in the pursuit of peace.
24SQN's SGT Trevor Moir was
honoured to be part of the service.
"It was very moving to view the
graves of all the servicemen and
women who lie here -- they are all
heroes," he said.
RAAF members deployed
aboard USS Cleveland
for Pacific Partnership
pay their respects at Lae
War Cemetery in Papua
New Guinea. From left,
FLGOFF Kylie Gosling,
CPL Madelaine Byers,
FLTLT Khai Nguyen,
FLTLT Andrew Bonnitcha,
LACW Benita Boucher
and SGT Trevor Moir.
Photo: LS Helen Frank
Paying respects to WWII heroes
10 weeks of joy
PEEK-A-BOO: CPL Madelaine Byers cheers up a baby at the Wampar Health Clinic, Lae in Papua New Guinea.
Photo: TECH SGT Tony Tolley
WORK STILL TO DO: The
USS Cleveland as now at East
Timor on the next phase of
Photo: MC3 Chris Farrington
LCDR Priya Chandra
SIX Air Force personnel were among a
diverse group of 20 from all three ser-
vices who participated in the first three
phases of Pacific Partnership 2011.
For 10 weeks, LACW Benita
Boucher, CPL Madelaine Byers,
FLGOFF Kylie Gosling, FLTLT
Andrew Bonnitcha, FLTLT Khai
Nguyen and security policeman SGT
Trevor Moir lived and worked beside
doctors, dentists, nurses, medics
and dental technicians aboard USS
Cleveland to visit Vava'u in Tonga,
Luganville in Vanuatu and Lae in
Papua New Guinea.
Pacific Partnership is an annual
humanitarian program sponsored by
the Commander US Pacific Fleet,
which also involves military person-
nel from the US, New Zealand and
Canada and other military and non-
Although the ship had further
stops scheduled in East Timor and
the Federated States of Micronesia,
the mission ended for the Air Force
personnel when the ship docked in
But their memories of the trip
would not be forgotten.
Dentist FLTLT Nguyen said: "We
have forged life-long friendships
and bonded over some fantastic and
unique times and experiences."
LACW Boucher said: "I really like
doing something out of the ordinary
that I couldn't do in a civilian job.
Helping out people who are so much
less fortunate than ourselves is a real-
ly rewarding experience."
Perhaps the first eye-opener came
on their first stop, Tonga, when the
mission members were transported to
shore by Landing Craft Utility (LCU).
LCUs are capable of carrying 350
personnel and can carry provisions for
14 days. Luckily this capability was
not called upon, though some of the
trips took over an hour to ferry per-
sonnel to and from the ship.
FLGOFF Gosling said she enjoyed
the ride, but "as an Air Force member
it is unlikely I'll ever get that experi-
ence of travelling in such an unusual
The busiest stop came last of all.
In Lae, they saw almost 11,000
medical patients, including 850 dental
patients, more than double the other
two countries combined. They con-
ducted basic health checks, issued
reading glasses and medications,
extracted severely decayed teeth, and
operated on animals large and small.
THE STORY SO FAR
In the first 10 weeks of its
mission -- to Tonga, Vanuatu
and Papua New Guinea -- the
Pacific Partnership team:
treated more than 14,000
cared for hundreds of
completed dozens of
including school buildings,
bathrooms and water
catchment systems; and
engaged in several
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