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Proud to Serve – Shaun Willson

Growing up with a father who was a firefighter and strong family ties to military service, Babcock Australasia Pilot, Shaun Willson, has always held deep respect for Defence and emergency services personnel. An intrinsic commitment to serving his community, combined with a childhood passion for aviation, sparked Shaun’s 17-year career with the Australian Army.

My career with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) began in 1995, when I joined the Army Reserve. Shortly thereafter, in 1996, I joined the Australian Army where I served in various roles including Line Pilot, Flight Instructor, Flight Examiner and Troop Commander.

I was initially a Squadron Pilot on the Bell UH-1H helicopter (Huey) before completing my instructor training and becoming a Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI). I then served as an instructor on Kiowa and Huey helicopters at the Army Aviation Training Centre before returning to the Huey squadron as the Squadron Instructor Pilot. The last five years of my service were spent in Townsville training Army and Navy Pilots as part of the introduction into service of the MRH-90 Taipan helicopter.

During my service, I completed numerous rotations as a Pilot on Operation Bel-Isi II, the peace monitoring operation on the island of Bougainville. I also deployed to Banda Aceh on Operation Sumatra Assist, the humanitarian assistance operation following the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. I also undertook domestic deployments on Operation Gold, the security operation for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and Operation Acolyte, the security operation for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Reflecting on my time with the Australian Army, I am immensely proud of the work our squadron did in Bougainville, in particular the numerous casualty evacuation missions that we conducted. I’m also very proud of the work our squadron did to provide humanitarian assistance to the population of Banda Aceh and surrounding areas following the tsunami.

Today, I work as a line Pilot on the South Australian State Rescue Helicopter Service contract in Adelaide. This contract encompasses a number of different missions, including emergency medical response, search and rescue and law enforcement missions. I am also a check and training pilot, flight instructor and flight examiner.

Working in Aviation & Critical Services at Babcock allows me to continue my service and support the community of South Australia. Whether it be emergency medical response, search and rescue or law enforcement missions, the ethos of “service before self” underpins all of these operations.

For me, on Remembrance Day it is important to reflect on the sacrifices made by the generations before us. In particular, my thoughts turn to my late grandfather, Frank, who spent many years away from home whilst serving in World War II. I also think of my grandmother, Isabel, who was at home in Port Pirie raising an infant son on her own for a number of years while Frank was away at war. I take a quiet pause at 11am to observe the traditional minute’s silence as a mark of respect to all those who have served their country, and in particular those who gave their lives during their service.

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