Sun sets on ‘part-time’ career 35 years later

Sun sets on ‘part-time’ career 35 years later

A childhood  fascination with aviation and “making a pest” of himself at recruiting in the early 1980s was the start to a successful 35-year “part-time” career for RAAF Operations Officer Squadron Leader Jim Eftos. 

West Australian born and raised, Squadron Leader Eftos joined the RAAF Reserve in 1985 after being encouraged by his fellow Air Training Corps instructors, an organisation he joined as a  cadet in 1967. 

Squadron Leader Eftos said he had to wait a number of years for a vacancy at No. 25 Squadron but his perseverance eventually paid off, leading to a long and varied career that saw him meet royalty, develop a friendship with WA’s only ‘Dambuster’, serve three WA governors as honorary ADC, and, at 66, still being able to blitz his annual physical fitness test.

“The best part of my Reserve career was the opportunity to be involved in aircraft operations, which in the early years was with 92WG, work with aircrew when 25SQN resumed flying, and to develop personally and professionally in a field far removed from my full-time professional career,” Squadron Leader Eftos said.

He retired from his “day job” as a senior executive in the WA public sector in late 2017 after 42 years. 

“While the two careers were quite different, I was able on many occasions to bring my experience and skills to the benefit of both, something that Defence and civilian employers have long recognised as a major advantage of reservists,” Squadron Leader Eftos said.

Squadron Leader Eftos has spent the last part of his RAAF career as Deputy Chief of Combat Operations (DCCO) (Reserve) in the Combat Operations Division at the Air Operations Centre (AOC). 

In the DCCO role, he supported the permanent Air Force Chief of Combat Operations in managing the execution phase of Air Force flying  operations, or as he puts it, “the part where air power is delivered”.

“The role can at times be quite complex and involves the tasking and deployment of air assets and the ongoing monitoring of flying operations including outside of normal hours,” Squadron Leader Eftos said.

During his lengthy career in and around the AOC, Squadron Leader Eftos has helped in deploying aircraft on Operation Bushfire Assist and Operation Hawick (the repatriation of victims of MH-17) and has deployed on Operations Relex and Resolute  as part of the ADF’s contribution to the protection of Australia’s borders.

“I think OPSO is the best job in the Reserve because it can put you at the centre of Air Force flying operations and when combined with the AOC in the unique position of often seeing events evolve before they become news,” he said.

“A highlight of my career was the opportunity to participate in a number of international exercises including at Red Flag at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

“Red Flag allowed me to see flying ops up close and in a unique operating environment and location, and in a small way to contribute to the successful execution of the exercise. It was a good reminder of why I joined the Air Force Reserve in the first place.”

As the first half of 2020 draws to a close and Squadron Leader Eftos puts on his uniform for the last time, his many friends and colleagues wish him the best for the next chapter of his life, which undoubtedly will have something to do with aviation.

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