Project recognises Indigenous veterans

Project recognises Indigenous veterans

Personnel at RAAF Base Edinburgh have been able to identify almost 30 Indigenous South Australian veterans in a project that aims to recognise their service.

This year Remembrance Day fell within NAIDOC Week which gave Edinburgh’s Indigenous Liaison Officer Flight Lieutenant Steve Warrior the opportunity to reflect on the stories of lesser known veterans.

During his Remembrance Day address at the West Terrace service in Adelaide, Flight Lieutenant Warrior said many people were familiar with Warrant Officer Len Waters, who was the only known Indigenous RAAF fighter pilot in World War II.

He also said some may know of Squadron Leader David Paul, an Indigenous bomber pilot who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“But unfortunately, we know very little about Indigenous South Australian veterans,” Flight Lieutenant Warrior said.

“At RAAF Base Edinburgh, we only knew a handful of names of South Australian Indigenous veterans at the beginning of this year. 

“Through much research, we have now identified almost 30 veterans.

“The long-term aspirations to strengthen the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and to strengthen and enhance the workforce of the RAAF, are aspirations that have been handed down from those veterans. 

“As we move into our centenary year, Air Force is committed to increasing our knowledge of South Australian Indigenous veterans who are unrecognised for their commitment and sacrifice throughout times of war.”

The NAIDOC Week storytelling theme continued at the RAAF Base Edinburgh service when Commanding Officer No. 24 Squadron Wing Commander Glenn Orton talked about the sacrifices of Indigenous veterans.

“This year, with Remembrance Day coinciding with the postponed NAIDOC Week, it provided a unique opportunity to focus on the lesser-known Indigenous contributions to our nation’s war service through storytelling,” he said.

“That key element of Indigenous culture is so important to NAIDOC Week.

“We have unveiled a display honouring Leading Aircraftman George Tongerie in the Edinburgh airmen’s mess to inspire today’s airmen, soldiers and sailors, and future generations.”

Flight Lieutenant Warrior also conducted the Welcome to Country at the Road Home Foundation Remembrance Day breakfast at the Adelaide Convention Centre. 

Other personnel from RAAF Base Edinburgh were involved in Remembrance Day services around South Australia, including the main service at the National War Memorial in Adelaide, and at the West Terrace War Cemetery where 4000 graves are located.

An AP-3C Orion conducted a flyover at the Salisbury and Gawler services, while a service also was held at Playford.

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