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Commander of the United States Seventh Fleet, Vice-Admiral N F Weisner, praised 817 Squadron of the RAN Fleet Air Arm

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The Commander of the United States Seventh Fleet, Vice­

Admiral M.F. Weisner, today praised 817 Squadron of the RAN

Fleet Air Arm for "a truly exceptional display of speed and

skill in the face of a terrible disaster."

At a cermonial parade at the Naval Air Station, HMAS

ALBATROSS, at Nowra, he presented the squadron with the U.S.

Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation.’

' The Wessex helicopter squadron won the award for its

role in rescue operations following the collision between HMAS

MELBOURNE, and the FRANK E,. EVANS in the South China Sea on June

3 Icist year.·

Lieutenant-Commander D.H. Rodgers, who was commander

of the squadron at the.time and won the Air Force Cross for

his part .in the rescue, received the Commendation on behalf of

the Squadron.. ■ 1

Vice-Admiral 'Weisner said he could not compliment

817 Squadron highly enough on their efficiency and coolness

while working against time to save .lives.,

"As much as a commendation, this award is a token

of our appreciation for your fine airmanship, team work and

superb rescue efforts," Vice-Admiral Weisner said,.

. "I know and you know that your true reward is the

knowledge and satisfaction that comes" from helping sailors in

distress and saving lives.' For that, neither the U.S. Navy

nor the families of the 38 men involved can ever thank you enough.'

Among distinguished guests at the ceremony were the

Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Sir John .

Wilton, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Sir Victor Smith,

the Flag Officer Commanding East Australia, Rear-Admiral G.J.B.

Crabb, and the Flag Officer.Commanding the Australian Fleet,

Rear-Admiral H.B., Stevenson. '

CANBERRA, 23rd July, 1970