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March 1, 2012
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LAC Bill Solomou
IT WAS a day of emotion and cel-
ebration when 34SQN marked its 70th
anniversary by dedicating a memo-
rial in honour of all the personnel who
had served in the squadron and the
wider Air Force community.
Members of the Past and Latter
Staff (PALS) and their families
attended the event held at Defence
Establishment Fairbairn on February
19. CO 34SQN WGCDR John
Davidson was very pleased with the
turn out, and acknowledged the sacri-
fices of past and present members of
"Today we reflect on the struggle
and sacrifice of those who have gone
before us, and we look forward as the
stewardship of the squadron passes to
a new generation to take it into even a
brighter future," he said.
Descendants of the first 34SQN
fatalities were in attendance to unveil
the memorial. PLTOFF Milton
Conkey and LAC Bernard Hovey
were victims of an aircraft accident at
Parafield, South Australia, on March
LAC Hovey's children Ray and
Maree said they were honoured to be
at the unveiling.
"It's difficult to describe the emo-
tions of today -- we are very happy,
34SQN honours past for 70th anniversary
Memorial a moving tribute
yet sad at the same time," Mrs
McInnes said. "They have put a lot of
work and thought in to the memorial;
Patron of PALS, and former Chief
of Air Staff, AIRMSHL Barry Gration
(ret'd), said the memorial provided
ownership to PALS at Fairbairn.
"It creates a point of focus, a
memorial where we can each remem-
ber all those who have passed on; who
have touched 34SQN," AIRMSHL
Earlier in the day families and
friends of 34SQN were treated to a
barbecue breakfast and were able to
view the BBJ 737 aircraft.
A formal gala dinner was held at
Parliament House on February 18,
attended by Defence Parliamentary
Secretary Mike Kelly and current and
past members of the squadron.
Mr Kelly congratulated 34SQN on
reaching its milestone and said the
squadron was established four days
after the bombing of Darwin in 1942,
beginning with just two officers,
four airmen and two De Havilland
DH-84A Dragon aircraft.
"Since those humble beginnings,
34SQN has gone from strength to
strength," Mr Kelly said.
Turn to page 17 for a special feature on
34SQN's 70-year history.
UNVEILED: From left, Maree McInnes and her brother Ray Hovey, descendants of LAC Bernard Hovey, and
Christine Bridle, descendant of PLTOFF Milton Conkey, unveil the new 34SQN memorial at Fairbairn. LAC
Hovey and PLTOFF Conkey were 34SQN's first fatalities in 1943. Far left, CDR ALG AIRCDRE Gary Martin,
AIRMSHL Barry Gration (ret'd) and 34SQN CO WGCDR John Davidson.
Photos: LAC Bill Solomou
sad at the
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