A C-130J Hercules flypast will be a highlight of a reunion being held in Coffs Harbour this weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of the deployment of the first RAAF personnel to the Vietnam war with the establishment of the RAAF Transport Flight Vietnam.
The RAAF Transport Flight Vietnam (RTFV) was formed at Vung Tau Air Base in South Vietnam, with three DHC-4 Caribou transports, on August 8 1964. The RAAF would also deploy UH-1 Iroquois helicopters and Canberra bombers to Vietnam, with personnel numbers peaking at 750.
The RFTV was reformed as 35 Squadron in 1972, and it is members of the No. 35 Squadron Association that are organising the Coffs Harbour reunion. Personnel from the present-day 35SQN, which is based at RAAF Base Richmond preparing to introduce into service the C-27J Spartan, the aircraft that is ultimately replacing the new-retired Caribou in the battlefield airlifter role, will also take part in the reunion.
“The current generation of No. 35 Squadron is extremely proud of the contribution made by our veteran members, and we’re looking forward to joining them in Coffs Harbour,” said CO 35SQN Wing Commander Bradley Clarke.
“No. 35 Squadron has a 72-year history, and its service in Vietnam is an extremely important part of our unit’s identity,” WGCDR Clarke said. “It was during this conflict that the squadron’s nickname, ‘Wallaby Airlines’, was forged, with RAAF Caribou in Vietnam flying 81,500 operational sorties.”
The C-130J flypast on August 9, meanwhile, will commemorate the role RAAF C-130s played in operating 14 hour non-stop aero-medical evacuation flights from Vung Tau to Richmond.