28 Intake Scorpions 1974
Intake Organiser: Pop Saari EMAIL HERE / 07 32011218 or Chris Nielsen 0403 943029
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On the 08JAN74, approx 125 15-16 year olds from all across Australia, including one from Norfolk Island, and a few RNZAF signed on the dotted line to serve our country. From there, we descended upon RAAF Base Wagga Wagga by all forms of transport, on the 09JAN74 and hit the RAAF like a ton of bricks. Or more correctly, the RAAF hit us like a ton of bricks. From there we were sorted into 6 flights and allocated rooms, usually 3-4 per room. Off to L group to be issued with all our clothing etc, and who could forget the white cotton boxer short underwear they gave us. I'm sure no one wore them. Our Course/Flight mothers (Mick Fenwick, Skull Devantier, Simmo, Jock Loftus, Killa Kenna and Sutcliffe ) were all ADG's, ex Vietnam, whom I'm sure got more gray hairs or hair loss after looking after us for the first 6 months. One of the talks was about shaving whereas one of us piped up and said "But Cpl, I don't shave" and the reply was "You're in the RAAF son, you will shave everyday" We also learnt that there are no earthquakes in Wagga and that when you woke up on the floor with your bed on top of you, it was a rumble by the senior course, in this case 27 Rats. Saturday mornings were always a morning out in town and then hitch hiking back to Base after standing at Sprog corner as it became affectionately known.
So the first 6 months was at Initial Training School ITS, where we went back to school basically to do more English, Maths, Psychological Tests etc along with learning how to march and all other things RAAF related. The parade ground become our second home, along with Basic Hangar and all that filing, or so it felt. One memory that sticks in people's minds is the Scottish Black Smith and his sayings. "Dinnae burn th' metal " and my personal favourite was "All that glitters is not gold and all that's black is not cold" It was also during this period that there was a period of grace where guys could say that this wasn't the life for them and were free to go home, as some did, and some others were persuaded to leave as they were not deemed suitable and wouldn't work out in the long term. During this term, we also got to decide on our future trade by a preference system, and most guys got their choice. Included to help us make a choice was a day trip to RAAF Williamtown to tour various sections and listen to experienced Trades People.
So, 6 months passed and for us that meant our first proper leave period so most of us went home. Our parents I'm sure were surprised by how much their son had changed, by his diet, manners and the ability to wash and iron his own clothes! For some of us who had turned 17, the legal driving age in NSW at the time, it also meant that an array of vehicles were brought back to show off and be criticised by our mates. From here on we were split into 2 groups, Mechanical Training School (MTS) and Electrical Training School (ETS).
For the next 12-18 months we delved into the technical side of our training, alas losing some more members along the way. 28 and 27 Intakes had the distinction of being the 2 shortest overall times spent at Wagga. The rumour we heard was that the units complained that the Apprentices were not trained enough. Don't know how true that was but Trade times were extended again after 28 graduated. It could also be that you had to 17 years of age to leave Wagga and some of 27 and 28 had to stay behind until their birthdays.
After entering the real Air Force, some guys lasted a couple of years before getting a DCM (Don't Come Monday) for various reasons whilst our longest serving member completed close to 45 years. Most guys stayed with their base trades while others opted for remuster to Flight Crew or the Officer field.
Notable events that happened during our time at Wagga were the floods of 1974, second highest on record. We were told we were not allowed to go to town and help as we were Appies(boys), but did that stop us? No way so we went and helped with sand bagging etc.
The Skyhooks toured in Wagga 1975 and some of the guys went and seen them. On their way back to the Base driving along Baylis St, there was Shirl being chased by a group of screaming girls. The guys pulled over and Shirl jumped in and they took him back to his motel where they shared a beer and got an autograph.
MTFITT, AFFITT, ENGFITT and ARMFITT's graduated in JUL75. ELECFITT graduated OCT75. INSTFITT graduated DEC75. A grand total of 88 fine young Airmen then went into the real Air Force to further their skills and complete their Apprenticeships.
Sadly, we learn of members who have gone to the big hangar in the sky. A big thank you for being a part of our lives and thank you for your service. It has been said and I will say it again, being an apprentice is something we should all be proud of. It is a group of people that no one can now ever join, or indeed leave. It is with us forever more.
A bit of advertising if I may. 28 Scorpions are on Face Book https://www.facebook.com/groups/1188383814528366 and have around 36 members so if any Scorpions are reading this, or if you know any Scorpions, please ask to join or tell them . If you are not on Face Book and do not wish to use Face Book, then you can send me an email or text Nelly and we can add you to the email list that we also use to get info around.
We marched and marched
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