I received a lovely note from PeterR today thanking us all for the response to his story this morning about Operation CENDERAWASIH (which I found out means Bird of Paradise).
First up here's the Commonwealth Gazette setting out the dates of the operation and the award of medals.
I also received a note from reader Col, who sent this photo of the crash scene and the downed chopper. I found the scale a bit deceptive at first, until I focussed on the group of locals at the bottom left of frame.
Just for your info, being an ex RAAF C130 Loadmaster I know the Crewman referred to in the Irian Jaya UH1 crash in 1977, he converted from Helicopter Crewman to Hercules C130 Loadmaster after his helicopter crash rehabilitation.
The ACT Newsletter refers to him as LAC Peter Sinclair, in fact his name is Patrick “Paddy” Sinclair.
The story is covered in AirForce History:
1. On this day in Air Force history: 19770729 29/07/1977 Fatal helicopter crash in West Irian
During Operation Cenderawasih (Bird of Paradise) in Western New Guinea (or Irian Jaya, Indonesia), two UH-1 Iroquois helicopters of No 9 Squadron, RAAF, were sent on this day from Wamena to convey an Australian Army party engaged in geodetic survey work to an airstrip across the mountains. Heavy cloud caused the mission to be aborted, and the two aircraft were returning to base when machine A2-379 went missing with five personnel on board. The lost aircraft was located early the next day in a moss forest at an altitude of 10 000 feet (3000 metres). Two Army personnel were winched 60 metres through the jungle canopy to the wreck below and found that, apart from the pilot, all on board had survived though three were seriously injured. A Special Air Service patrol team from Darwin was inserted to protect the wreck while recovery operations were carried out over the next week.
The attached photo is the crash position of the Iroquois.
I have forwarded the link to Paddy, if he wishes to make factual comment via your web blog.
Col, Peter, Paddy, the late Flight Lieutenant Ralph Taylor and all the others who served in West Irian are real people. The Defence Force is made up of real people. It's not an amorphous abstract institution that exists to cop flack from lefty journalists who feel it's their duty to break down the military.
The slur of involvement in the slaughter of local villagers in Irian Jaya is just an unspeakable and vile thing to throw at people. So glad we've had a role in putting the truth forward.
To all those who wear the Australian Service Medal with clasp "Irian Jaya", thank you for your service.