A lifelong dedication to history’s heroes

A lifelong dedication to history’s heroes

In the modern world, it is unusual for an employee to spend 50 years working for one organisation, but Rockhampton-born Greg Williams has done just that.

Wing Commander Williams joined Air Force in 1970 and following an eventful and varied career now works in the Directorate of Historic Unrecovered War Casualties in Canberra.

“My interest in the Air Force started when I lived in Papua New Guinea. The remnants of war were evident wherever I went; the old airfields were littered with abandoned aircraft and the hills where I lived and played as a child still had trenches surrounded by barbed wire,” Wing Commander Williams said. 

“Gun emplacements had been left standing and there was unused ammunition everywhere. 

“These places became my playground and was the catalyst to my interest in military history. 

“Wartime aircraft such as the Dakota and Catalina were still flying but in civilian colours.  

“During my career I have had the opportunity to live in and travel to many places and undertake a wide variety of work I would not have had the opportunity to experience elsewhere.”

Air Force search teams conducted detailed searches at the end of hostilities for several years throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the south-west Pacific region as well as Australia. 

Today, the Directorate of Historic Unrecovered War Casualties does not actively search for the missing from World War II.  However, the team will re-examine cases where there is credible evidence of aircraft wreckage being located that is believed to be one of our missing aircraft with aircrew.

These reports come mainly from the public who have an interest in the field and go searching, or from people who stumble upon wreckage in a remote jungle area. 

When a report is received, the evidence is assessed and where it appears credible, a reconnaissance of the site may be conducted to determine the identity of the wreck. Once a wreck is positively identified as a missing RAAF aircraft, consideration is given to conducting a mission to search and recover the remains of the crew. 

“The highlight of my Air Force career has been the privilege of working in the field of Historic Unrecovered War Casualties,” Wing Commander Williams said. 

“During this time, I have been involved in the recoveries of more than 50 missing airmen and soldiers, and have accounted for many more through the discovery and identification of formerly missing aircraft from World War II

“The main challenge has been the in-depth research required to correctly identify aircraft, many of which crashed more than 75 years ago.  

“I am proud and privileged to be part of such a great organisation. I have seen the transformation from the ’70s Air Force to what is now – one of the most professional, well-trained and respected Air Forces in the world.  

“Having joined before the 50th anniversary, it is a great honour to be still serving and able to commemorate the 100th anniversary.

“I believe the RAAF has always been a great Air Force but the changes that have occurred during the past 50 years has made it one of the best.”

Planning is underway for the commemoration of the Royal Australian Air Force’s formation in March 1921 and further information is available at www.airforce.gov.au/100


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.