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April 11, 2013
92WG Qualified Flying Instructor
FLTLT Nicholas Chapman may not
have been able to attend the home-
coming parade on March 23, but he
said the event was a great tribute to
everyone involved in the task group.
During his 11 years with 92WG,
he deployed three times to the MEAO
-- as a crew captain on the first rota-
tion into Iraq in 2003, as the pilot
standards and training officer with the
task group, and as the Maritime Patrol
Liaison Officer on Combined Task
Force 57 in Bahrain.
He said what he remembered most
about his time on deployment was
being part of an effective team.
"In my opinion, MEAO operations
brought the best out of all involved,"
FLTLT Chapman said.
"From a flying viewpoint, the
tight liaison that developed between
maintenance and aircrew and the effi-
ciency and teamwork that developed
within the crew was great to be a part
of and particularly memorable."
He said being part of the first rota-
tion was most memorable.
"These operations were complex
and very challenging, and while I had
deployed to the MEAO with the Navy
multiple times before, for the rest of
my crew this was vastly more compli-
cated than any previous experience,"
he said. "In particular I recall on the
evening the war commenced we were
operating in the very north of the
"While we were unaware of the
exact time, we knew hostilities were
about to commence. It was an unusu-
ally clear and calm evening and I recall
looking down on southern Iraq and
noting a surreal beauty that evening.
"Our crew took pause for a
moment to reflect on how things were
about to change. Shortly thereafter the
skies lit up with the commencement of
the strike and by the time we landed,
we observed the subsequent results of
those strikes on CNN.
"It was a surreal."
TRIBUTE: FLTLT Nicholas
Chapman said being part of
the first rotation to the MEAO
was most memorable.
Photo: LACW Nicci Freeman
Full of pride and memories
First strikes never forgotten
AFTER nearly 10 years on operations,
involving 3500 deployments, 2410
missions, and 22,535 flying hours,
92WG members had every reason
to stand proud at their homecoming
parade in Adelaide on March 23.
Many of them had deployed multi-
ple times over the past decade, spend-
ing months in the air or on the ground
in support of Operations Slipper,
Catalyst and Falconer.
Among them was 11SQN pilot
SQNLDR Ashley Joslin, who clocked
up the equivalent of 48 days in the air
and 18 months in the MEAO over his
five deployments with the task group.
Deploying on the first detachment
to the MEAO as a junior pilot in 2003,
SQNLDR Joslin was also there at the
end -- as commander of the last task
unit rotation in November last year.
In between, he deployed three other
times to the MEAO -- as co-pilot and
crew captain. All up, he flew on more
than 140 operational sorties.
"As commander of the task unit I
was involved with the planning, coor-
dination and authorisation of the mis-
sions, rather than flying the mission
itself," SQNLDR Joslin said.
Joining his 92WG colleagues in
the homecoming parade, he said it was
a "fitting tribute to the efforts of all
involved in the deployment of 92WG
to the MEAO over the past 10 years".
10SQN OPSO FLTLT Damien
Martin, who undertook a six-month
deployment with the task group as
AIROPSO, said it was a great honour
to take part in the march.
"I often don't get the opportunity
to march on Anzac Day but I wasn't
going to miss the homecoming march,"
he said. "We would normally return
home from the MEAO quite anony-
mously in smaller numbers than our
Army brethren who would return as
a whole rotation in uniform, so this
march was great closure for us and rec-
ognition for the time away from loved
ones on operations."
He said it was the crowd's reaction
that really hit home.
"I heard a lot of 'welcome home
guys' from complete strangers and that
said enough. I think all of us parading
that day marched a little taller when
we heard that."
10SQN airborne electronics ana-
lyst SGT Joel Geisler had previously
marched with his squadron on Anzac
Day, but the homecoming was the first
time he had marched with the whole
"Participating in the parade was a
proud moment," he said. "Given the
high tempo of operations in recent
years, it was great to see so many
92WG members in attendance and
it was also a chance to catch up with
SGT Geisler deployed to the
MEAO three times -- once as an avion-
ics technician and twice as an AEA
after remustering in 2009.
"Crews spend several months train-
ing and preparing before a deployment
so being able to put our skills to use in
an operational environment in support
of allied units was a highlight," he said.
"Despite being away from family and
partners for several months the crew
operated seamlessly, flying in excess
of 300 hours on each deployment."
SGT Geisler said his second tour in
2011 was particularly memorable.
"My crew was tasked with assist-
ing a merchant vessel that was being
attacked by Somali pirates. We were
conducting surveillance tasking in the
Arabian Sea when a distress call came
through. The merchant was fired upon
several times by the pirates as they
tried to board. The presence of our air-
craft deterred the pirates."
Another member who served with
the task group three times was 11SQN
avionics technician CPL Mathew Daw,
who deployed in 2005, 2009 and as
part of the final rotation last year.
He said being part of the last mis-
sion in the MEAO was memorable, but
it was the experiences and the people
he worked with that he would remem-
"My first rotation going from
winter in Adelaide, being around 14
degrees or so, to getting off the air-
craft in the UAE and being hit with 50
degree temperatures was something I
won't forget," CPL Daw said. "[I also
won't forget] sweating it out in the
heat when the temperature was over
50 degrees out on the tarmac and not
being able touch anything that had
been on the ground for longer than
five minutes without gloves on -- as
well as having a chance to work with
the Canadian, Dutch, British and New
Zealand ground crews.
"Deploying to the MEAO and serv-
ing my country is something that will
stick with me forever and will prob-
ably stand out as one of the highlights
of my Air Force career."
He said marching in the homecom-
ing parade was a great honour.
"People along the march route
clapping and cheering as we went past
felt a bit like Anzac Day but it was
good knowing it was just for us. Being
able to see my family in the crowd
that lined the streets during the parade
is what stood out for me, particularly
hearing my four-year-old nephew
pointing and shouting out 'there's
uncle Mat!' "
MANY TOURS: From far left,
SQNLDR Ashley Joslin, SGT
Joel Geisler, FLTLT Damien
Martin and CPL Mathew Daw,
who all participated in the
92WG homecoming parade in
Adelaide on March 23. Photos:
WO2 Andrew Hetherington, LAC David
Cotton and LAC Brenton Kwaterski
END OF AN ERA: An AP-3C Orion
on the flightline at Al Minhad Air Base
before its last mission in the MEAO on
November 21 last year.
Photo: WO2 Andrew Hetherington
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