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Hercules flypast to commemorate 50 years since Vietnam War deployment

written by australianaviation.com.au | August 6, 2014
An undated image of a RAAF Caribou over Vietnam. (Defence)
An undated image of a RAAF Caribou over Vietnam. (Defence)

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.

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“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.

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9 Comments

  • Raymond

    says:

    A pity the Caribou’s actual replacement, the C-27J Spartan, isn’t yet in service so it could take part.

  • Mac Carter

    says:

    Will there be a Caribou flying on the day ?

  • BOB DE LA HUNTY

    says:

    The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society tried desperately to find sponsorship to send one of our EX Vietnam Caribous to the event but no one could find the $14k required.HARS is a volunteer no for profit organisation and relies on donations to operate its historic fleet and volunteers to service the fleet.
    We wish all those attending well including some of our HARS members

  • Jono

    says:

    2 of our (38SQN) King Air’s with are on the way down as I write this, hope the weather holds out for an awesome time.

  • Raymond

    says:

    Thanks Bob.

  • Raymond

    says:

    Jono – just a thought (hope it’s not too ‘out of left field’!), but why couldn’t the RAAF have sent just one King Air and donated the money that would have been expended on sending the second one to HARS instead so they could send a Caribou?

  • Steve B

    says:

    I was at Vung Tau in 1968-69 and it was No. 35 Sqn then. Best wishes to all.

  • Dick Jones

    says:

    It was a memorable weekend. Thanks to all who made it happen. It was great to have so many currently serving RAAF men and women there with us.
    RTFV personnel were drawn mostly from 38SQN on 9 month rotation in the beginning. I was at Vung Tau with RTFV when it morphed into 35SQN around June 1966.
    Without a doubt, being with Caribous as part of 38SQN and then RTFV/35SQN in Vietnam was a great experience in my life.

  • Jono

    says:

    Raymond, nice thought but right, not workable.

    One KA went direct fully load with staff and the other had to spear off to pick up staff from a diff loc..
    The King air was our means of travel to support the event.
    I heard a great time was had by all.. nice pics too.. pity HARS couldnt show up in a Bou..

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