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NAVY, ARMY, AIRFORCE
May 12, 2011
By SGT Andrew Hetherington
PERSONNEL from Heron Rotation 4
(Roto 4) deployed to Kandahar Airfield
in Afghanistan broke three records dur-
The tri-service detachment flew a
total of 475 hours, surpassing the previ-
ous monthly flying hour record by 82
The Commanding Officer of Heron
Roto 4, WGCDR Greg Wells, said the
two other records were achieved by an
individual within the unit and by a team
"One of our payload operators,
FSGT Sean McClure, surpassed the
record of 500 flight hours and we flew
a total of 22 hours for one mission, three
more hours than our previous record,"
WGCDR Wells said.
"In the 22-hour mission we were sup-
porting Australian troops on the ground
and were asked to extend our flight
time to continue providing assistance to
Heron Roto 4 comprises 28 personnel
from the Navy, Army and Air Force. The
unit operates three Heron airframes.
Navy's only representative is ABIS
Bradley Darvill, who contributed to the
record-breaking month of missions.
"I work as an imagery analyst and
I'm part of the intelligence crew at the
Heron detachment," ABIS Darvill said.
"We monitor the imagery feed from
the aircraft, pass the information to the
soldiers on the ground and at the end of
each mission write a report on what we
ABIS Darvill works on a morning or
afternoon shift which can last up to 12
He's involved in either one of two
types of missions.
"We can look for certain items of
interest when we are requested by troops
on the ground, which is called a direct
support mission," ABIS Darvill said.
"We are also tasked to look at spe-
cific geographic locations for patterns of
The most rewarding aspect of his
deployment with Heron was helping the
soldiers on the ground.
"I can see the effects of my job
directly. For example, I might view an
IED being emplaced in real time and
then tell the boots on the ground it's
there," he said.
"We then see the soldiers move to the
item, find and disarm it. If there's a good
outcome after sometimes putting in days
of work, I feel like I'm making a differ-
Even though the job is rewarding it's
also a challenge.
"I'm making a lot of the calls on
what I'm seeing on the screens," ABIS
"I have a lot of information coming
quickly and be accurate at the same time.
"It's very hard to do this. Some days
there can be a lot of pressure and it can
be very challenging."
Making a difference
ON THE GROUND:
ABIS Bradley Darvill
at work with Heron
Photo: SGT Andrew
Goodbye to a legend
FORMER Royal Navy (RN) WWI
and RAN WWII veteran Claude
Choules passed away in Perth on
May 5 aged 110.
Mr Choules, who celebrated
his 110th birthday in March, was
believed to be the world's last sur-
viving WWI veteran.
On behalf of the RAN, Chief
of Navy VADM Russ Crane has
expressed his condolences to the
Choules family at this sad time.
The Commanding Officer
of HMAS Stirling, CAPT Brett
Wolski, said the loss would be con-
siderable to the wider Navy family.
"Mr Choules' career has spanned
some of the most significant events
in maritime history. Our thoughts
are with Claude's family," he said.
Speaking on behalf of the fam-
ily, Mr Choules' daughter, Anne,
said her father was proud of his
Navy service and considered it his
"We are grateful for the Navy's
continued association with the fam-
ily and their recognition of our
father's life," she said.
Born in England on March 3,
1901, Mr Choules' life spanned the
existence of the RAN, which began
two days before his birth.
Joining the RN in 1916, he
served in the training ship HMS
Impregnable, a 140-gun, square-
rigged wooden battleship.
While serving in HMS Revenge,
Mr Choules witnessed the surren-
der of the German Fleet at Firth of
Forth in 1918.
A 'big ships man', Mr Choules
served in the battleship Valiant and
spent two years as petty officer
aboard the RN's first purpose-built
aircraft carrier, HMS Eagle, in the
Joining 11 other RN sailors in
1926, Mr Choules came to Australia
as an instructor at Flinders Naval
Depot. He liked the Australian way
of life and transferred permanently
to the RAN.
Mr Choules discharged in 1931
but remained in the RANR, rejoin-
ing in 1932 as a chief petty officer
torpedo and anti-submarine instruc-
tor.During WWII, he was the acting
torpedo officer and the chief demo-
lition officer in Western Australia.
Mr Choules was tasked with
destroying facilities and oil storage
tanks to render them useless in case
the Japanese invaded.
After WWII Mr Choules trans-
ferred to the Naval Dockyard Police
and remained in service until 1956.
After retirement, he purchased a
cray-fishing boat and spent 10 years
fishing off Western Australia.
Claude Choules at his
retirement home in
Photo: LSIS Nadia Monteith
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