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November 21, 2013
LEUT Andrew Ragless
PERSONNEL have engaged in
a bloody battle at Headquarters
Northern Command (NORCOM)
in Darwin to see who could
achieve the largest donation in the
Defence Blood Challenge.
In mid-October, five members
representing each service, includ-
ing former Commander NORCOM,
AIRCDRE Ken Watson, "took up
arms" and went head-to-head in
filling the first 470ml bag of life-
AIRCDRE Watson said dedica-
tion, commitment, compassion and
courage were displayed during the
"I don't think any of us enjoy
getting a needle in the arm, but the
need is great, and we can all be
certain that when we give blood we
are really making a difference to
somebody else's life, perhaps even
saving one. And that makes it really
worthwhile," AIRCDRE Watson
said.WOFF Andrew McCabe gave
blood on the day and said he was
no stranger to the process.
"I have been donating blood
for my entire adult life," he said.
"I must have donated more than 30
He said it was important for eve-
ryone who could donate to do so.
"What goes around comes
Rising to the challenge
around -- you never know when you
may require a blood transfusion. If
I ever require a life-saving transfu-
sion I would like to think there will
be sufficient quantity in the blood
A single blood donation can
help at least three different patients
and make up to 22 different blood
products. Red cells can last 42 days
and plasma donations have a shelf
life of up to 12 months.
Darwin's Red Cross Blood
Service spokesperson, Ernie
Rondot, said it was encouraging to
witness the enthusiasm and gener-
osity by Top End Defence person-
"One in three Australians will
need blood in their lifetime and yet
only one in 30 Australians donate
blood," Mr Rondot said.
The Defence Blood Challenge runs until
November 30. To make your donation
count, visit www.donateblood.com.au/
defence and call 13 14 95 to make an
BLOODY BATTLE: HQ NORCOM personnel from left, LCPL Kylie
Pezdirc, WOFF Andrew McCabe and LS Michelle Lakin pose with
Sam, of the Red Cross Blood Service, and former Commander
NORCOM AIRCDRE Ken Watson (right).
SGT Dave Morley
MEMBERS of No. 32 Squadron and
the School of Air Warfare (SAW) con-
firmed 32SQN's motto of "Adaptable"
when a routine search and rescue train-
ing sortie turned real on October 28.
A KA350 King Air, captained by
FLGOFF Malcolm Hanson and co-pilot-
ed by FLGOFF Jonathan Bishop, was on
a SAW maritime training flight when the
crew received a request for assistance.
A Thruster T-500 ultra-light air-
craft flying from Launceston, with two
23-year-old Newcastle men on board,
had ditched into the sea about 30 nautical
miles south-west of Flinders Island.
FLGOFF Hanson said the transition
from training to real was instantaneous.
"I called off the training sortie imme-
diately and that effectively initiated 'real
mode'," he said.
"The weather was good -- light winds,
good visibility and a low sea state.
"If you ever needed to ditch, that day
was the best day for it."
FLGOFF Hanson said it was reward-
ing to know they were able to assist.
"The whole crew was relieved that
[the occupants of the ditched aircraft]
were OK and waving at us," he said.
"The two students were outstanding
and conducted themselves very profes-
sionally. They assisted with several duties
including plotting positions, logging
events and fuel calculations, and were the
first to obtain visual with the two guys in
the water while we maintained overhead.
"SAW instructor FLTLT Joe Tasker
demonstrated excellent mission com-
mand, which would have been an invalu-
able learning experience for the students."
FLTLT Tasker, a Royal New Zealand
Air Force member with seven-and-a-half
years' experience operating Orions, is
currently on a three-year posting to SAW.
He said he had completed more than
25 search and rescue operations in his
"I was the instructor running the
scenario and assessing the two students in
a maritime patrol scenario," he said.
"We had completed most of our train-
ing and I was about to give the students a
search and rescue scenario when the real
"I acted as the mission commander,
not only to complete a safe and efficient
search but to demonstrate this skill to
the students to assist them in their future
careers on AP-3Cs."
FLTLT Tasker said the students were
extremely excited to be a part of a real
search and rescue.
"They valued the lessons from a
dynamic, real-world scenario and were
happy and relieved that the survivors
were safely recovered," he said.
"Overall, this was an excellent effort
by the pilots of 32SQN and the staff and
students from the SAW. It proves the
training sorties conducted at SAW ade-
quately prepare Air Combat Officers and
Aviation Warfare Officers for real-world
"The SAW and 32SQN have a strong
relationship and, even though our roles
are different, our training allows us to act
as one, which really showed on that day."
Training sortie turns real
MISSION-READY: From left, PLTOFF Dylan Smith,
PLTOFF Ash Bell, FLTLT Joe Tasker RNZAF (middle
rear), FLGOFF Jonathan Bishop and FLGOFF
Malcolm Hanson were involved in a search and
rescue mission 30 nautical miles south-west of
Flinders Island. Inset, aboard the aircraft.
Photos: CPL Steve Duncan
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