Page 3424 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 18 September 2013

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Part of the ceremony was the unveiling of the original 1966 B model Iroquois main rotor blades that are set up as the plaque. These were spare blades intended to be used during the Vietnam War on Iroquois helicopters but never went into action. These plates were kindly donated by the Australian War Memorial. Thanks also go to RF Gee who wrote a wonderful description of the work which the 9th Squadron conducted during the war.

In recognition of the event and the importance of the Iroquois to the servicemen, I want to speak a little bit about this machine. The Iroquois helicopter, or the Huey, that was in service during the Vietnam War arrived on 14 June 1966. Before being able to take part in operations in the field, there were several modifications which needed to be carried out. The people that provided the blades and did the work here in the ACT were actually air fitters on these machines.

The No 9 Squadron became fully operational in early June 1966 after two weeks of modifications and fit-outs. By the time the 9th Squadron arrived in Vietnam the US Air Force was using a newer and larger version of the Iroquois, the D model of the Iroquois as opposed to the B model of the aircraft, so much larger. The D model was used to transport American troops, to resupply and for airborne command and medical evacuations because of its greater carrying capacity and ease of access for troops and supplies. Despite this, the RAAF continued to use the B model for all these roles until 1968 when the RAAF B models were replaced by the larger and better powered H model Iroquois.

One of the B model Iroquois helicopters used during the war is currently on display in whole at the Australian War Memorial. The A2-1019 was in Vietnam for two years and four months, of which it was damaged and unserviceable for approximately 5½ months. During its serviceable period, the A2-1019 flew missions every day while in operation, which equates to thousands of sorties during its time in Vietnam.

As the B model increasingly became replaced by bigger and faster aircraft during the war, some began to be sent back to Australia. Any that remained were generally tasked with admin flights around South Vietnam. The 1019’s last flight was on 24 September 1968.

Having met some of the personnel who flew the A2-1019, I thought it appropriate to go and have another look at the display within the Australian War Memorial. It is a truly exceptional opportunity to see a significant part of our military history. It is so well displayed and explained at the War Memorial. It is set amongst the scene that replicates situations in which the A2-1019 operated and projects the light and sounds.

The ceremony which saw the unveiling of these blades was also a service of remembrance, recognition of the service of the fine men and women who served their country, including those who made the sacrifice in losing their lives. A number of Vietnam War veterans and their families were in attendance at the ceremony.

The important thing that came across in conversations was the actual remembrance of the aircraft flying and the noise that it made. All of the vets found that this noise was a

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