Yesterday was another “first” for Aussie Heroes. I was invited to take a group of Aussie Hero Friends to farewell HMAS Success and her crew of 235 sailors and officers as she departed for her six month deployment to the Middle East Region of Operation Manitou.
The auxilary oiler was farewelled from her home-port of Garden Island, Sydney by Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, CSC and Bar, RAN, Senator for New South Wales, Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Well, herself a navy wife of many years, and representing the Minister for Defence. Also in attendance was the Assistant Minister for Defence, Mr David Feeney MP, Commander Surface Force, Commodore Jonathan Mead, AM, RAN and family and friends.
There were several speeches wishing the crew a safe and successful deployment and thanking the families and friends for their essential support.
|Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, CSC and Bar, RAN,|
|Senator for New South Wales, Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Well, herself a navy wife of many years, and representing the Minister for Defence|
Captain Justin Jones and others were interviewed by various media outlets.
As always the RSL, lead by the CEO Chris Perrin, did a fabulous job providing morning tea and refreshments for everyone present. With the temperatures stretching towards 40+ the cold water was not only popular but also essential.
We caught up with the Chaplain of Success
And also renewed acquaintance with the chaplain who had worked with us earlier last year when we looked after HMAS Toowoomba the first time around.
Big thanks goes to the Ship’s Warrant Officer for greeting us and for sending a number of would be recipients our way so we could say hello and grab a photo. From left to right those who accompanied me on the day were Dasha, Gail, Caroline and Evelyn.
This is one of your recipients Chocolyn Laughalot ladies!
Rosemarie T meet your recipient.
This young lady was still on my request list till Gail met her yesterday so now she is in good hands – a rare opportunity for quilter and recipient to meet before the quilt is made.
Jill S, you are working on this young man’s quilt
And Lynn and Michele, this is one of our Boatswains
This is now one of Evelyn’s recipients.
Stephanie N – this is your snow loving recipient.
Another recipient on the waiting list for her quilter.
Another recipient waiting to be claimed.
Even with all the demands on his time Captain Jones took the time to come and meet with us and was kind enough to pose for a photo.
We heard about this but missed seeing it happen. This brave gentleman got down on one knee and proposed to his beautiful girlfriend just before deploying…
And we have it on good authority that she said yes! Another one of our Boatswains Lynn and Michele
A very special fellow made an early visit especially for the children…
And finally it was time to climb aboard
As the band played on
and as the crew stood to attention on the various decks,
HMAS Success started to pull away
and her deployment began.
Bet the crew were glad their cruise is in a more modern vessel than the days of old!
I figure you probably get sick of hearing from me all the time so asked the other ladies to send me their thoughts on the day for you instead.
Another day, another proud moment to be part of Aussie Hero’s.
Today it was an honour to stand by the families and friends of the men and women preparing to deploy for six months at sea on board HMAS SUCCESS. It was emotional for me watching their emotions, and I can’t imagine their pain at farewelling their loved ones for such a long time. It was an awesome sight to watch the ship back away from the dock with all the personnel saluting in their dress whites and the navy band playing the national anthem.
Once the salute was over, there was a flurry of frantic waving. Of course I did get into the spirit and waved to all and sundry. As the ship pulled away I caught the glinting of the captain’s many medals and I enjoyed the proud moment in time that I was able to be part of.
On a hot sunny morning people of all ages gathered together at Garden Island to farewell the latest RAN ship to travel to the Middle East.
The naval personnel in their crisp white uniforms, with medals glinting brightly in the sunshine, went about their preparations with quiet efficiency until it was time to say an emotional goodbye to their loved ones on the wharf.
A few sailors we spoke to were excited to discuss the Aussie Hero Quilts they had requested, and were eagerly awaiting their arrival, perhaps in the first postal drop, perhaps later. Officers from other ships supported by AHQ also told us how well-received our quilts and laundry bags have been, and what a difference they make to crew members who are missing home.
There were speeches and good wishes from the dignitaries, then last minute hugs, kisses and tears. The crew of Success climbed the gangway and took their positions along the length of the ship. The gangway was removed, the Navy band played the National Anthem and Waltzing Matilda, then the mooring ropes were untied and Success moved slowly away from the wharf with the help of the waiting tugs. A sea of hands waved both on board and on shore.
A group of young women, whose partners had just left on the ship, introduced themselves to each other, swapped phone numbers and offered to support each other while their men were away.
Despite the emotional goodbyes, there was also an air of optimism. Even Santa was there, with gifts for the kids!
We wish HMAS Success fair winds and following seas, and a safe return home.
I have always had my own personnel reasons for quilting for AHQ, having three nephews in the services. Today’s experience just cemented it. I knew no one departing today, but I certainly was overwhelmed with emotion as the ship was farewelled .Seeing families, partners and friends saying goodbye for such a long time, has made me more determined to keep on doing what we do. We make a difference, an important one no matter how small. I could not do what this whole group do, separated like they are. I was made feel very proud to have met a few future recipients and how excited they are looking forward to their mail. We make it more bearable. Thankyou Jan-Maree for giving me the opportunity to be there today.
It was a day of many impressions. Sadness…. families…. pride…. sailors everywhere in their sparkling whites…. the medals flashing in the sunlight and if you were in the wrong place, bright enough to blind you momentarily…. kids everywhere…. the gang plank being lifted by the crane (why did I think the gang plank lived on the ship?)…. the oppressive heat…. contrast of the Success sailing out of the harbour and the James Craig passing Fort Denison…. the crew walking single file up the gang plank…. the sheer size of the ship, I felt like a midget standing on that wharf…. the beautiful view from the deck…. the tiny helicopter on board…. the brass band (with all the members in their pristine whites standing in the sun playing the Australian Anthem…. tears…. the crew lined up along the rails of the decks as the tug was pulling the vessel out… family groups taking that last photo…. a young girl standing quietly clinging to her boyfriend, the tears sliding silently down her cheek, knowing she won’t see him for many months.
An emotional day for many people, and an honour to have been invited to be part of it.
Till next time,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,keep spreading the word and happy stitching!