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F/A-18 coalition forces tour of duty finale.

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20 May 2002


Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 aircraft and personnel returning from deployment as part of Australia’s contribution to the international coalition against terrorism, will receive a warm welcome home during a ceremony at RAAF Williamtown tomorrow.

Families and friends will join Member for Paterson, Bob Baldwin MP, and Air Commander Australia Air Vice-Marshal John Kindler in welcoming the deployed personnel back from Diego Garcia.

Mr Baldwin who will be representing the Minister for Defence Robert Hill, said the men and women who supported F/A-18 operations should be immensely proud of their contribution to the fight against terrorism.

“We all take great pride in the Air Force personnel who deployed to Diego Garcia to maintain air operations in support of the coalition against terrorism,” Mr Baldwin said.

“The two detachments that made up the F/A-18 deployment distinguished themselves among coalition partners and their contribution was highly regarded.”

Mr Baldwin will thank family and friends for making their own commitment to support their loved ones while they were absent on deployment.

“Family support is vital for the success of missions such as these and I offer my thanks to them for their support, love and understanding,” he said.

“I would also like to thank the wider Air Force community who provided all the essential support for the deployments.”

The commitment of F/A-18 elements to he coalition against terrorism was the first combat-related deployment of fighter aircraft since the Vietnam War. The return of the F/A 18 aircraft completes Australia’s commitment to fighter operations in Diego Garcia. Air Force personnel and air-to-air refuelling aircraft continue to serve in Kyrgyzstan in support of coalition efforts.

The two F/A-18 detachments were made up from personnel from No 77 Squadron, who returned to Australia in February this year, and personnel from No 3 Squadron who returned today. Those who returned today will take a well-earned break with their families before returning to duty.

Contact: Bob Baldwin 0419 694 620 Anna Fitzgerald 02 4983 1330