E-7A Wedgetail flypast to commemorate lost Airmen

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In honour of Australian Defence Force members who fought in the Vietnam War, a Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail aircraft will perform a flypast over the Australian War Memorial in the early evening of Monday, 2 November. This flypast will commemorate the 50th anniversary of two airmen who lost their lives during the Vietnam conflict.

The E-7A Wedgetail from No. 2 Squadron, based at RAAF Base Williamtown, will track from Parliament House to the Australian War Memorial at a speed of 450 kilometers per hour and a height of no lower than 150 metres. 

It will travel along Anzac Parade from the south-west to the north-east, arriving overhead the Australian War Memorial at approximately 5:25pm. 

As part of the ceremonial events, current serving No. 2 Squadron personnel will hold a commemorative service at the Australian War Memorial prior to the flypast, acknowledging the service and sacrifice of the lost airmen. 

Commanding Officer No. 2 Squadron, Wing Commander Jason Brown said the aircraft participating in the flypast held great historical significance and was adorned with commemorative nose-art completed by personnel deployed on Operation Okra in 2020.

“The nose-art combines the No. 2 Squadron lightning bolt emblem with the Unit’s World War II and Vietnam War decorations,” Wing Commander Brown said.

“This includes a United States Presidential Unit Citation, a Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, and a United States Air Force Outstanding Unit Commendation.

“As No. 2 Squadron has recently returned from operations in the Middle East, we remember those who have come before us and we honour their memory through our service contributions.” 

On 3 November 1970, No. 2 Squadron Canberra Bomber, tail number A84-231, call sign ‘Magpie 91’, went down near the Laotian-Vietnamese border after completing a successful bombing mission in support of United States ground forces. The cause of the crash remains unknown.

The aircrew were Flying Officer Michael Herbert (Pilot) and Pilot Officer Robert Carver (Navigator). The last known radio transmission to the crew were from US ground controllers who praised their efforts by reporting, “That was an excellent run, Sirs.” 

Following the incident, No. 2 Squadron and the United States Air Force searched for the pair for three days, eventually declaring Flying Officer Herbert and Pilot Officer Carver as missing in action. Their remains were eventually found and repatriated by a Defence Historical Unit on 31 August 2009.

No. 2 Squadron returned to Australia from Vietnam on 4 June 1971 after four years and two months of operations. The Squadron flew over 11,900 combat missions during the conflict.
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