Home' Air Force News : November 24th 2011 Contents Call 1300 137 747
or visit www.legad.com.au
ADF Discount Applies
Do you have a partner from overseas? Family members living in another
country? A business needing overseas sta ? If so, we can help you apply
for an Australian visa.
Director & Principal Solicitor, Kent Chapman:
Former Department of Immigra on Legal O cer;
Ex Australian Regular Army Major;
Over 10 years legal experience;
Registered Migra on Agent (MARN 1173313)
WITH the unemployment
rate in Tasmania at an
all-time high in 1981,
three young Tassie
women enlisted in the Air Force to
get a start in life.
Thirty years later they are still
serving together, and still loving the
Air Force life -- although they admit
things are a lot different now from
when they started.
WGCDR Leona Down and
SQNLDRs Debbie Baker and Kim
Samin were part of the first female
rotations to go through 1 Recruit
Training Unit at RAAF Base
Edinburgh when they joined as air-
women trainees in August 1981.
WGCDR Down joined as a
medical assistant, SQNLDR Baker
as a clerk, and SQNLDR Samin as
a signals operator.
Male and female recruits were
segregated; it wasn't until 1985 that
both courses were combined.
"When we hopped off the bus
it was like we had come from a
different planet, with all the men
looking at us like they had never
seen women before," SQNLDR
For WGCDR Down, the stark
image of the barracks reminded her
of the 1980s hit television series,
"I was half expecting the 'Freak'
to come out from behind the door,"
Luckily, the 'Freak' didn't
appear, but the Senior Women's
NCO on course wasn't far off the
mark, she said.
"Our SWNCO took us through
our paces, although she had a heart
of gold, it was deeply buried,"
WGCDR Down said.
"She could drink any man under
the table and she had a voice that
would curdle milk, as she yelled at
us from across the parade ground."
The airmen's course was 10
weeks long but the airwomen only
did six weeks and did not carry
SQNLDR Samin said their drill
differed greatly from the men's.
"We were taught 'handbag drill'
as all women were expected to
carry a handbag correctly and not
a weapon, because in those days
women would never be on the front
line so the thinking was that there
was no need for weapons drill,"
SQNLDR Samin said.
WGCDR Down recalled weap-
on handling on the F1 sub-machine
gun "dressed in jungle greens with
a crease down the front that was
so well starched it almost cut your
knee when you bent over to pick up
Reflecting on her time at
recruits, SQNLDR Baker remem-
bered the funny side of her gradu-
"On grad day the wind blew
parade ground picking up leaves
(just to have them blow back). Our
flypast was a helicopter, which
almost looked as if it was going
backwards," SQNLDR Baker said.
SQNLDR Samin loved the Air
Force from the first day. She found
the lifestyle exciting, as she had
only been out of Tassie a few times
WGCDR Down said she was
only going to serve short-term, but
decided to stay once she was on her
medical orderly training course. "I
told one of my instructors at the
training school that I wanted to
have her job one day and the rest is
history," she said.
SQNLDR Baker was always
going to do 20 years, but "never
thought I would reach the 30 mark."
WGCDR Down was the first of
the three to commission in 1988.
SQNLDR Baker commissioned
in 1990 after reaching the rank of
SGT clerk, and SQNLDR Samin
commissioned in 2007 after 25
years as an airwoman.
"I needed to do something dif-
ferent," SQNLDR Samin said. "It
was either up or out; I chose up."
How far we've
How things have changed for women in the Air Force. LAC Bill
Solomou caught up with three women who have each toasted 30
years of service and know just how far we've come.
THEN AND NOW: Below, from left, SQNLDRs
Debbie Baker and Kim Samin and WGCDR Leona
Down and, the life that they found themselves in
Main photo: LAC Bill Solomou
THE WAY WE WERE: Above, ACW Kim
Samin in service dress on graduation day
at 1RTU in 1981, and below, ACW Debbie
Baker in her 'jungle greens' during the
course at RAAF Base Edinburgh.
November 24, 2011
Links Archive November 10th 2011 December 8th 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page