Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Family Continues Tradition; Squadron Marks 50 Years since Last Operational Deployment

Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Family Continues Tradition; Squadron Marks 50 Years since Last Operational Deployment

Article excerpt

Byline: Gary Worrall gary.worrall@qt.com.au

A TRADITION of serving Australia in a time of need has continued, with two generations of the same family going into combat with RAAF 2 Squadron, almost 50 years apart.

When 2 SQN was ordered to Phan Rang Air Force Base in April 1967, remaining there until June 1971, crews were operating Canberra bombers, under the control of the United States Air Force 35th Tactical Fighter Wing.

With eight GAF Canberra bombers deployed to South Vietnam from the squadron's base in Butterworth, Malaysia, among the supporting ground crew was Leading Aircraftsman (LAC) John Shearer, who arrived "in country" on April 19, 1967, staying until March 22, 1968.

Known to his squadron-mates as Grandad, because he was a 40-year-old LAC, John Shearer had previously served with RAAF, before leaving the airforce to become a farmer.

LAC Shearer rejoined the RAAF after Australia became involved in the South Vietnam conflict, and was posted initially to Butterworth with 2 SQN, before his deployment.

Having left a wife and five daughters at home in Australia, LAC Shearer returned to Australia with stories of building the 2 SQN amenities virtually from scratch, including pathways, bunkers and mess areas.

Flight Lieutenant Shelton, grandson of LAC Shearer, said the squadron was also required to contribute to the airfield's defence, in addition to the "day job" of ground crew of preparing aircraft for bombing missions.

"Fear of attack was constant and squadron personnel were required to contribute manpower to airfield defence as well as their primary role," FLT LT Shelton said.

"I have heard stories and memories of frantically loading magazines inside the hangars, rocket attacks, catching saboteurs attempting to enter through the fences and minor skirmishes, and he was there during the enemy's Tet offensive."

Despite a gruelling work schedule, 2 SQN members enjoyed off-duty time at the Vietnamese beaches during R and R , when the social club provided boats and fishing rods for use, and the bar was always a favourite to relax in.

In 2017, 2 SQN was again on combat operations, but with a new role, said FLT LT Shelton, who is currently deployed as part of Operation OKRA in the Middle East Region as an Air Battle Manager with the E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft. …

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