Home' Navy News : December 8th 2011 Contents December 8, 2011
817 Squadron and Sea Kings decommission
a lot of friendships here. It will be
ay because it will be the end of an
era. It s going tobe a massive change to go to
another squadron I think.
-- ABATA Mitch Whale, 817 SQN
e created a
sad in that wa
a It's going
Need a lift?
Remembering good times
Hundreds of former 817
Squadron members returned
to HMAS Albatross to say
hello to old friends and bid
farewell to the Sea King in a week-
end of reunion events which fittingly
began on Remembrance Day.
The weekend culminated in
an open day at the Fleet Air Arm
Museum, which featured flying and
ground displays of naval helicopters
and, most importantly, gave everyone
a final glimpse of the mighty Sea King
Among those at the open day was
Arthur Sharland, who was based at
Albatross for nearly 50 years. Arthur
was a warrant officer with 817 in 1975
and had attended the senior sailors'
and engineers' reunion on the Friday
By DALLAS McMAUGH where he caught up with mates he
hadn't seen for 35 years.
"What people don't realise is that
we're a family and the Sea King was
the catalyst that created that family,"
"I have a lifetime of connections
with the people I worked with, so for
me the reunion was a very emotional
Garth Perkins, a former maintainer
and winchman at 817, didn't move too
far from Albatross after retiring. He
said he would miss the familiar sight
of the Sea King in the Nowra skies.
"I am so used to hearing them I can
distinguish between a Sea King and a
MRH-90 flying over head," he said.
Joe Pollard and Ken Kelslaw, who
were both with 817 in the '70s, have
fond memories of the Sea King.
Ken was with the helicopter right
from the start as he was in HMAS
Melbourne when they bought the
boxes containing the first of the Sea
Kings to Australia.
"The Sea Kings have done a won-
derful job," he said, "but I understand
they've had their time. I just hope 817
SQN comes back because it's got so
many good things behind it."
Joe was an aircrewman on both the
Wessex and Sea King and said while it
was sad to the see the Sea Kings retire,
it should be seen as part of life.
"None of us, man or machine, can
last forever," he said.
"I remember we were sad to see
the Wessex go but then the Sea Kings
Joe's fondest memory of his time
at 817 was just getting on with the job.
"As an aircrewman I used to get up
there in a Sea King and think to myself
'I get paid to do this -- how amazing is
Mates Bob Abbott, Pete Davis and
Jon Keating also enjoyed the opportu-
nity to catch up over the weekend.
Bob, a former maintainer and ATA,
described the occasion as a "bit sad".
"For me the best part was the
camaraderie between the boys -- you
can't beat a bunch of Pussers having a
good time," he said.
Peter agreed, saying the sense of
working as part of a close-knit team
Jon, who came all the way from
Cairns for the reunion, was an able
seaman and LSATA with 817 from
1982 -- 1989.
"Great times and great memories,"
was how he described these years.
"Catching up with everyone this
weekend; it's like we've never been
apart," he said.
"The guys who put the reunion
together did a great job.
"817 and the Sea King were such a
big part of my life as a young man so
it's just magnificent to be here."
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