Gratitude from across the ditch
By Flight Lieutenant Vernon Pather
The Australian Defence Force team that deployed to New Zealand in late February to assist in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle has been praised for its efforts.
The task assigned to the two C-27J Spartans and 38 personnel was to provide support to the New Zealand Defence Force and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
The Australian contingent comprised a mobile air load team, joint movements representative, two environmental health officers and a military camera crew, as well as the two aircraft, their crews and plane technicians.
Commander Task Element Squadron Leader Andrew Clark said the team performed admirably.
“We completed all tasks successfully with no issues,” Squadron Leader Clark said.
“The airframes and crew performed very well through the challenging weather, especially icing in the clouds at high altitude.
“Overall, the C-27J Spartans successfully transported 39,543 pounds of cargo and 194 passengers over 34 flights to Napier, Ohakea, Gisborne, Wairoa, Wellington and Christchurch.”
After the final Spartan flight returned to Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Auckland Whenuapai, from its last mission to Napier and Christchurch, the team concluded its deployment with a barbecue with RNAZF 40 Squadron.
At the barbecue, Base Commander, Group Captain Mike Cannon thanked the Australian contingent for its support and presented the contingent with a base shield plaque.
Squadron Leader Clark thanked the RNZAF for the opportunity to assist, their support, and hospitality afforded to the contingent at its temporary home at RNZAF Base Auckland Whenuapai.
“Being here on the base allowed us to smoothly integrate with the Royal New Zealand Air Force and to execute our tasks without any hiccups,” Squadron Leader Clark said.
“Team morale has been high through the deployment because of where we are.”
Squadron Leader Clarke also presented Group Captain Mike Cannon with a signed photograph of the C-27J Spartan from the task element.