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President's Report 2013

President’s Report 2013

Every so often in life you find yourself witnessing or being part of an event which has a profound impact on you. For me and I suspect all those present, such an event was the Air Defence Luncheon which took place in May last year. This was a gathering of a small group of regular Army personnel coming together with a select group of 2/3rd veterans.

The Army contingent (Royal Australian Artillery) comprised four young lieutenants Pru Connell, James Easton, Jimmy Nguyen and Sam Rynne who were in the final stages of their officer training and their C.O. and instuctor Captain Mike Squire. The young officers who I estimate were all aged in their twenties were training in gunnery for ground based Air Defence.

Representing the 2/3rd were Cec Rae, John Campbell, Ian Rutter and John Marshall. Accompanying this impressive group were Cec’s son Ian, Secretary Colin Bragg and myself. The setting was around a long table in the quiet surrounds of the wine cellar of the City RACV Club.

By way of background this gathering resulted from an approach made by Captain Squire to our Association that his officers meet with a group of WW2 anti aircraft veterans to hear first hand how ‘Air defence’ as it is now known, was conducted at that time.

Over a long lunch the two groups interacted, generally with one of the young lieutenants in deep discussion with one of our ‘boys’. During the course of the afternoon these pairings would change or become a small group. The intention at all times was to keep the mood intimate and relaxed with a lack of formality to encourage conversation.

For my part I found it a very special experience to move quietly around the room observing the mutual respect and genuine warmth that was evident between those present as they exchanged information, experiences and anecdotes punctuated by frequent bouts of laughter. A selection of photographs taken on the day appear in this edition of Take Post and on the website and capture some of the atmosphere of the occasion.

The highlight and only formality of the afternoon was the presentation by Captain Squire to each member of the 2/3rd contingent of a highly polished, pristine condition Bofors shell as a thankyou for their time and willing participation. This was a wonderful gesture which surprised and delighted the veterans.

If this group of young lieutenants and their C.O are at all representative of the current crop of officers in the Defence Force then we are in good hands and the ADF has much to be proud of. As always our 2/3rd boys were a credit to themselves, the Regiment and the Association.

I stated at the outset what a profound effect the event had for me – it was very moving to witness the dignified coming together of two groups so different in age and experience but united by a common bond. I felt privileged to have been present at such a unique and memorable occasion. My thanks to Captain Squire and Secretary Colin Bragg for making the idea a reality.

Over recent times much attention has been focused on the development and launch of the Association website. The website together with the digitization of ‘On Target’ are two important examples of the new world of electronic archiving and communications.

As we become more familiar with this new world and marvel at its speed and convenience we can also be lulled into a false sense of security that such electronic data is permanent and safe. Our indefatigable Secretary had a rude reminder of how fragile this digital world can be when late last year our website was the target of a hacker resulting in the site being taken down for a period of time. Colin and I speculated that the hacker might have been the disgruntled descendant of a WW2 Lutwaffe pilot shot down by a 2/3rd battery! However while the rest of us were enjoying our Christmas and New Year, Colin endured a very tense few weeks in constant communication with the website technician trying to ascertain the extent of the damage and if it could be restored what new security would be required to prevent a reoccurrence.

Fortunately the damage was minimal and the website was repaired albeit with a new layer of security software and backup.

On behalf of the Association I want to thank Colin for ‘taking one for the team’ during that stressful time and to also thank those members who so willingly donated to the cost of the website repair. The website is an unqualified success and figures produced by David McDonald at our last committee meeting show the number of hits continues to increase.

An overall snapshot of the Association currently indicates that it is tracking well in most key areas. One area of concern however is the number of members who are not ‘financial’, a fact highlighted in the Secretary’s Report. I have emphasised previously how important it is for all members to ‘be on board’ in order to ensure that the Association remains viable into the future and is able to undertake initiatives such as those introduced in recent years. The financial contribution asked of members is not great but it is vitally important.

As is customary at this time of the year I want to thank all members of the Committee for their continued support and involvement – Anne Rae, Ann Bragg, David McDonald, Graeme and Matthew Heddle and of course Colin Bragg for his outstanding work as Secretary, production of Take Post and for putting such a professional stamp on all aspects of the Association.

I conclude with this thought. Recently over a very enjoyable morning tea with Cec Rae he described the relationship between the men of the 2/3rd as a ‘brotherhood’ such was the bond that existed and still does between them. As one of the small group charged with the responsibility of taking Association forward, I consider it a honour to be able to serve such a special ‘brotherhood’.