RNZAF Anniversary Celebrated
By SQNLDR Heidi Hartel
The Royal New Zealand Air Force anniversary is usually celebrated with the Beating Retreat ceremony closely followed by cocktails. However for a small group of us in Afghanistan it was recognised by the raising and lowering of the RNZAF flag at the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZPRT) “Kiwi Base,” in Bamyan.
The Senior National Officer (SNO), Colonel Brendon Fraher, approved the raising of the RNZAF flag in celebration of the 71st birthday of the RNZAF. So for one day at least, and for the first time, the “stand fast” was called and the flag flew. It made a change to have RNZAF personnel briefing our compatriots of the New Zealand Army on drill procedures but they took the advice in good spirits.
We have been here for almost six months and as the time to leave Kiwi Base and return home gets closer we think of family and friends. The raising of the RNZAF flag becomes a poignant reminder of the things that we are missing.
It has been an eventful, exhausting and rewarding deployment that started in mid August with six weeks of pre-deployment training at Linton Army Camp and Helwan Camp in Waiouru, two weeks of leave and then deploying on 8 October 2007. The other personnel deployed with us from the NZ Army, Royal NZ Navy, and NZ Police have become good friends and will always be warmly greeted as “comrades in arms” in the future.
The contingent will leave Afghanistan with many fond memories and a lot wiser for the experience. “It is a beautiful but struggling country inhabited by a generous people,” commented Padre Anthony Hawes.
Image right: Corporal Chris Watty raises the Royal New Zealand Air Force ensign to commemorate its 71st anniversary. WN-08-0035-01.JPG.