Vol 62

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ANZAC Day is a day for reaching out, it's a day when our nation stretches even taller.  Its main streets are crowded with young and old amid a sea of waving flags. It is such a precious day which shouts to the world of our national unity and spirit. It is a time when we seek the past to reflect on who we were, are now and what we must strive to be. It is a stark reminder of those we honour who have defended the fortunate life now enjoyed by us. Our sacred duty, today, tomorrow and beyond is to keep it so.  



Today, we are living in what is rapidly and sadly becoming a fool’s paradise fertilised by political correctness and growing public apathy. Above all, with few exceptions, inept politicians at all levels of governments react far too readily to the demands of the noisy blustering minority within our society. 


An example of which is the “feel-good” left wing led rubbish we carry on with at the opening of every event every-where, where some local Aboriginal person welcomes us to our own land, where we acknowledge, thank and recognise some Aboriginal group as traditional owners of the land on which we live, play or work. This a complete farce. It’s divisive, it’s demeaning and it’s certain to lead to a “them and us” society – which will ultimately lead to conflict. That is not the ANZAC way - we didn’t leave our shores to fight for this crap, we fought for freedom, we fought for equality, we fought for the life we used to experience.


It’s true that before the 1967 referendum, Aboriginal people were treated hideously, they weren’t allowed to vote, they weren’t counted in the census – they weren’t even treated as people. Thankfully, that repulsive situation was overwhelmingly reversed (90.77% of people voted to overturn it) and Aboriginal people were finally treated as equals. That righted a terrible wrong, but the ideologues weren’t satisfied and insisted we should repent for the rest of our days and go around in sack-cloth and ashes.


Australians in the main are an easy-going bunch, we put up with a lot without complaint – until pushed too far, then watch out. I don’t think the “watch-out time” is all that far off, I think it won’t be long before the silent majority buck and there will be a noisy and massive reversal and the limp wristed “we owe everyone everything” lot are cast into yesterday – bring it on I say.


If not, the consequence of our apathy will ensure that our life values will slowly and surely be eroded. Health, education and social disciplines are further examples, not forgetting our judicial system where the scales of justice have been tampered with to favour the guilty at the expense of the victims. And don't get me started on this gender neutral rubbish.


Once upon a time there was a beating of chests to claim one people, one flag, one nation and yet now we are running out of flagpoles for at least three flags which are to be seen in most government infrastructure. Is that national unity? In parliament, so much squabbling and chest beating is spent on trivia issues as opposed to unified efforts to pursue national matters, desperately in need of urgent repair 


Once, free speech was a sacred right and yet now you cannot say what you want to say, without fear of being mocked, accused of racism or even worse. We cannot sustain our chosen way of life unless we’re prepared to respect and protect it. You know it; I know it; the soldiers, sailors and airmen marching know it and those men and women from all those past generations who created and defended our nation with their own sweat, blood and tears would have known it. 


Before things get nasty, it’s time to roll up the sleeves and tell our elected political leaders to remove the blinkers and ear muffs. It’s time to tell all of them that enough is enough and to take us forward, not as diverse groups but as one with a positive sense of purpose. The first step is for them to shove that political correctness where the sun never shines – if they won’t, dump them and get someone who will. 


In Brisbane this year, as in most cities and towns across Australia, where ANZAC Day was remembered, people turned out in their thousands to cheer and to say thank you to the men and women of the ADF who had left our shores for harms’ way. It’s from these thousands and thousands of quiet non-complaining people that the big change will come – and come it will.


Each year the parades get bigger and the crowds get bigger – these people don’t leave their comfortable homes with kids in tow and stand in the street for hours clapping and cheering as current and past members of the ADF file by because they have nothing else to do – they do it because they appreciate the Australian way of life, they do it to thank the men and women who have given them that way of life, they do it because they can. And!  They don’t want that way of life changed.



This year in Brisbane, once again the parade and the crowds were huge. The Army led off, followed by the RAAF with the Navy tail end Charlie.


The RTFV/35 Squadron Association was led by Wing Commander John Griffiths (Ret’d) and this year we were honoured to have 4 serving men from 35 Squadron at Richmond marching with us. Click the HERE to see ABC video of the troops.


35 Squadron was formed back in March 1942 as a transport squadron, flying the tried and proven DC3. It was disbanded at the end of the war in June 1946 and stayed dormant until June 1966 when RAAF Transport Flight Vietnam (RTFV) was renamed 35 Sqn. Back then it was flying the mighty Caribou.


At the end of the Vietnam war, in 1972, the Squadron returned to Australia and eventually set up shop in Townsville.


In 2000, 35 Sqn passed their Caribous to 38 Sqn and was once again disbanded. Then, in 2013 it was re-established and began to be re-equipped with the C-27J Spartan transport aircraft. On the 18th April, the 10th and final C-26J arrived at RAAF Richmond – see HERE for the RAAF’s story on the arrival of number 10.  Any bets on there being a number 11, 12 and more sometime in the future?


As the RTFV/35 Sqn Association marched though the streets of Brisbane you could hear huge gasps of astonishment from the crowd, people were astounded that as you can see below everyone was in step – Griffo is such a hard disciplinarian.


You can click a lot of the following pics to get the HD version - all names left to right.



Prior to everyone forming up for the march, a few assembled at the RAAF memorial in Queens Gardens in George St to remember Maurice Peter Wells, a RAAF Caribou pilot who served with 35 Sqn in Vietnam from July 1970 to July 1971. Maurie, as he was known, was born in Bombay in India and died from organ failure at age 82 at Greenslopes Hospital in Brisbane on the 26 August 2013. Maurie is remembered as a fine gentleman who took a bunch of boggie pilots under his wing back in 1969-72. 




The ceremony was led by John “Trackless” Millsom after which “Big Chuck” Connors laid a wreath.


Maurice Wells served in the RAF as a pilot for about 20 years after which he joined the RAAF and flew Caribous with Nos 38 and 35 Squadrons between Jan 1969 and Aug 1972 before transferring to Air Traffic Control.


It was only recently discovered that Maurice died about four and a half years ago in Greenslopes Hospital (Brisbane) at the age of 82.  He chose to have a private funeral, his body cremated and his ashes scattered.  His assets were distributed to various nominated charities.


As far as can be determined, it was Maurie’s wish that no-one be advised that he was dying and, apparently, the only acknowledgement that Maurie had passed away was a Death Notice which appeared in the local Bundaberg newspaper some weeks later.


After a bit of discussion, a few of his mates decided to get together on Anzac Day in Brisbane for a (very) brief, (very) informal “ceremony”: to remember Maurice, to acknowledge his RAAF (and RAF) service and say a few appropriate words of farewell.


Click HERE for a brief report on Maurie's Air Force(s) career and click HERE for the nice words spoken by John Millsom.



L-R:  Bert Milne,  Kerry “Big Chuck” Connors,  Frank Robinson,  Geoff “Guppy” Rich,  Bill DeBoer,  John “Trackless” Millsom,  John “Griffo” Griffiths,  Fred Storey,  Mike Shanley,  Stu Cooper,  Rod “Rocky” McGregor,  John "Sambo" Sambrooks.


Dianne Pickering and Bill DeBoer at the RAAF Memorial, Queens Park.


35 Sqn blokes from Richmond:-   William Taylor, Malcolm McPhail, David Hughes, Blake Reichel

with the people’s champion, John “Sambo” Sambrooks.


The wonderful WRAAF ladies forming up prior to the march.


Malcolm McPhail,  Blake Reichel,  William Taylor,  David Hughes.





The RAAF had their guard-dogs on display most of which were well trained and well behaved, but this little blokette was the crowd’s favourite. Little “Rexie” had her L plate displayed and was more interested in smelling where the horses had been than in doing what she was told.



After the March, RTFV/35Sqn, along with 3 Squadron, members from the Vendetta Veterans Association and later some 2 and 9 Sqn Assoc people, gathered at the Jade Buddha on the Brisbane River for some finger food and a cold thirst quencher or two.


Once again, the Vietnamese Community, led by Diamond and Thai, provided the entertainment, this time they were accompanied by several beautiful Vietnamese ladies who danced and sang and mingled with those present. We thank them big time.  RTFV/35Sqn has to have the best after-march get together in Brisbane – thanks to Sambo and a lot of help from Diamond and Thai.





If you weren’t there and you missed it – it’s your fault.


Diamond,  Quoc-Thai,  Ngoc-Hue,  Ke-Hoa - belting it out.


3 Sqn bodgies.


A couple of happy blokes - Bill DeBoer,  Bert Milne.


“Blue” Farrell,  Debbie Ferris-Reynolds.


Carla with her daddio, John Donohue.


Standing:  Dave Geck,  Matt Struthers,  Steve Finch, 

Seated:  Amanda Geck,  Julie Struthers,  Dave Gill.


Dave Lenard,  Dianne Pickering.


Noel Sullivan and Dick Jones.

Noel travels down from Townsville each year to march with 3 Sqn


Elizabeth Goopy,  Rhonda Gutteridge.

If you’re having a party, you have to invite Liz – she’s the life of any party.


Gloria Swales,  Roslyn Rossi.


Gary Vagavous,  “Blue” Farrell.


Dennis Roles

Geoff "Guppy" Rich


Le Tan De and Pete DeJonge.


Some time ago, Mr DeJonge ordered one of the “RAAF Vietnam” caps from the People’s Champion. There is of course some debate as to whether or not he actually paid for it but he would bombard the People’s Champion with threatening emails and phone calls demanding delivery of such cap. In the end the People’s Champion had had enough, he decided to accept the word of Mr DeJonge that payment had been made and arranged for an eminent person to personally hand deliver said cap to his person and to have the incident recorded and published in order to put a stop to his demands and for peace to reign.     God save the Queen!


Karl Hilton,  Terrence Doyle,  Catherine Doyle.

Terrence was a Nasho.


Leslie Farrell,  Theresa Hart,  Terri Gordon.



Early in the afternoon, the President of the RTFV/35 Sqn Association, John McDougall welcomed everyone to the afternoon and thanked Diamond and Thai and the lovely Vietnamese ladies for coming along and brightening up the day.



Diamond presented John Mac, on behalf of RTFV/35Sqn, with a present as a thank you from the Vietnamese Community for the sacrifice RTFV/35Sqn members made in coming to the aid of the South Vietnamese people during the war.


The girls performed the dance of the seven veils hats. This was not an impromptu dance, obviously a lot of practice and rehearsal had gone into this and you can bet Diamond had a lot to do with it. These lovely people had unselfishly given up a lot of their time for our enjoyment – an amazing gesture, we can’t thank them enough. They must have spent hours practicing, they brought with them several changes of clothes, hats, different props, all at their own expense.


Click HERE to see the dance.    We owe them.



Diamond – "what the devil was in that?  I’ll have another"!



 The girls then belted out a version of Connie Francis’ 1959 song, “Lipstick on your collar.”




Some of the lucky blokes in the crowd received a stick-on set of red lips on their collars from one of the girls – all were hoping instead for the real thing.


Click the pic above to see the video.



Nhat-Thanh, one of the lovely Vietnamese ladies.


Ray Porteous and daughter Elise.


Sambo and Kim-Oanh, another of the lovely Vietnamese ladies.


Ted Strugnell,  Shan-Belinda Strugnell,  Wally Jolley,  Jennifer Shanahan.


Peta Fineran,  Murray McIntosh,  Laurel Shanley,  Jennie and John McIntosh.


Murray served with the British Army and was injured while on active service. He was in Australia visiting his brother, John, and asked if he could take part in the ANZAC Day march. Sambo readily agreed that Murray should march with and accompany the RTFV/35Sqn Association late in the day.


As Murray wasn’t able to walk the distance unaided, the RSL provided a jeep for him to complete the distance and Peta Fineran and her young family gave of their time to care for him.




Laurel is the GM for KM Smith, Funeral Directors, which are the major sponsor for RTFV/35 Sqn and Jennie is their Promotions Manager.



Monica Contreras, one of the lovely Jade Buddha girls who looked after us all afternoon with delicious finger food,

chatting with that old chick magnet, Wally Jolley.


Rocky McGregor,  Maurie Lewis,  Richard Marman.


Trevor Horne,  Jim Maguire,  Kev Irwin.




The Organisers.





At the end of the day, the band and the girls sang their good-byes, hands were shaken, hugs exchanged and promises to meet again next year were made. Click the pic below to see the video.






ANZAC Day at Ballarat.


Celebrating ANZAC Day at Ballarat were L-R:  Peter Schoutens, RAAF Association Ballarat,  Samantha McIntosh, Mayor of Ballarat,   John Broughton, President of the Radschool Association.


Pete Schoutens is actively involved in attempting to convert the old Officers' Mess at Ballarat into a Museum to commemorate WAG's that were trained at the base during WW2.  See HERE.




ANZAC Day in Perth.


On ANZAC Eve 2018 (Tuesday 24th April 2018), a twilight service was held at the WA State War Memorial in Perth to commemorate the RAAF’s contribution to the Vietnam conflict.


Ted McEvoy laying a wreath in honour of all RAAF personnel who served in Vietnam.


The speaker, CO 79Sqn – RAAF Pearce – gave a speech on the involvement of the three flying Squadrons. They were RTFV/35Sqn (Caribou transport aircraft), 9Sqn (Iroquois helicopters) and 2Sqn (Canberra bombers).


Even though they weren’t mentioned by unit name, acknowledgement was made of the important support role many others had contributed - 1OSU etc.


Ted had the privilege of laying a wreath on behalf of the RAAF Vietnam Veterans’ Association of WA. The tribute says:


“In honour of all RAAF personnel who served in Vietnam especially to those who paid the supreme sacrifice. Lest We Forget”.


We Will Remember Them.




ANZAC Day in Scotland.

James "Scotty" Potter.


'Scotty' Potter, 67, who was born in Broxburn, West Lothian, moved to Australia with his parents in 1966,  when he was 15. He joined the RAAF and served with various squadrons from 1968 to 1974, including 11 Squadron, 2 Squadron at Phan Rang South Vietnam and 3 Squadron in  Butterworth  Malaysia.


He said: “ANZAC Day is an emotional rollercoaster. For me, it’s a commemoration, not a celebration; a time for reflection to  remember old mates and make new ones;  a time for a laugh, a joke, a tear and a beer. It’s a day that gives me the chance to sit quietly and recall  the country and the RAAF that welcomed a young Scot,  taught me how to look after myself, be self-sufficient, the importance of teamwork, how to trust and depend on others,  and have others trust and depend on you.”


He added: “I would like to ask people to take moment and think of all the Scots, from the 1800s to the present day, that have emigrated to Australia, and decided to serve with the various branches of the Australian Defence Force, Air Force, Army and Navy,  who embraced their adopted country and were welcomed into the brotherhood, and traditions of the  ANZACS. Australia is a land that I love and am proud to have served; she is my spiritual home.”




Click the video below to watch a wonder tribute to ANZAC Day






The following was written by an eleven year old girl - named Jodie Johnson.



Who are these men who march so proud?

Who quietly weep, eyes closed, heads bowed?

These are the men, who once were boys

who missed out on youth and all its joys.


Who are these men, with aged faces 

who silently count the empty spaces?

Theses are the men, who gave their all

who fought for their country, for freedom for all.


Who are these men, with sorrowful look

who can still remember the lives that were took?

These are the men who saw young men die

the price of peace is always high.


Who are these men who, in the midst of pain 

whispered comfort to those they would not see again?

These are the men, whose hands held tomorrow,

who brought back our future with blood, tears and sorrow.


Who are these men, who promise to keep

alive in their hearts, the ones in death's sleep?

These are the men to whom I promise again

veterans, my friends, we will remember them !!





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