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From our mate Ross Eastgate - veteran in need deserves better


No one should mess with real mates looking after mates - here's Ross.

Image-32THERE was a unique bond between the men who flew Australia’s early combat aircraft.


They trained hard, fought hard, played hard and on too many occasions in the primitive airframes they flew, died hard together.

The third spatial battlefield environment still is brutally unforgiving.

The bond was all based on trust with the occasional bit of superstition.

Lancaster crews would ritually have a final, nervous pee on their aircraft’s tailwheel.

Lucky charms tucked into a flying suit pocket, from a rabbit’s foot to a pair the local barmaid’s knickers.

Unlucky for the rabbit perhaps.

However the crews who were best placed to survive worked on practiced skills, trust and an absolute faith in their ground crew to keep their aircraft serviceable.

When and if they survived, lifetime friendships followed.

Take Townsville’s former Warrant Officer Kerry Shipp DFM and Wing Commander Jack Lynch as two perfect examples.

Jack is a flying legend, piloting in his career multiple types from Sabres to F111.

When Australia was looking to establish a helicopter capability to support Australian forces in Vietnam, Pilot Officer Lynch was a natural candidate.

Helicopter crews were a new mustering and there was much experimentation to find the right mix of pilot and crew.

Because aircraft might need to provide their own technical support while away from their home base, engine fitters were selected as crewman, including door gunners.

LAC Kerry Shipp was selected for crewman training and he and his fellow South Australian Lynch developing an easy but strong bond.

Jack relied on Kerry and the other technicians to keep the aircraft serviceable, they in turn as gunners and aircrew relied on the pilots to get them through their mission and home again safely.

It was a win all round.

Recently Kerry Shipp had two major operations within three days to remove huge melanomas from his chest.

He is stoic but not well.

With hospitals under pressure it seems beds for COVID patients are a higher political priority than difficult surgical cases.

Kerry has fought the good fight but been sent or elected to go home.

Jack Lynch is fighting to have his old mate receive whatever he needs to provide the care he, and, just as importantly, his wife need.

From his Brisbane home he has pleaded for those with influence to step in for a veteran in need.

Don’t expect him to give up the fight easily.


Thanks to Vung Tau Ferry operator for the tip on this!

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