Walking to work at an Air Force Base while staring down the resident kangaroos was a new experience for Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Logistics Specialists Corporal Shaun Jones and Leading Aircraftman Joshua Harris.

The Kiwis, from Operations Squadron at RNZAF Base Ohakea, two hours north of Wellington, participated in Exercise Talisman Sabre  (TS21) and trained with No. 23 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley.

“Everything at RAAF Base Amberley is on a larger scale than what we are used to back home,” Corporal Jones said. 

“Even the kangaroos that jump around the base are massive. We had a few stare offs on our walk to and from our accommodation and gym in the evenings.”

Officer in Charge of Movements at No. 23 Squadron, Squadron Leader Dani Phelps, praised the work of his RNZAF counterparts.

“The workload for Exercise Talisman Sabre was constant, with multiple aircraft of all sizes arriving every day to be loaded with cargo and personnel bound for northern and central Australia,” Squadron Leader Phelps said. 

“Corporal Jones and Leading Aircraftman Harris demonstrated that RAAF and RNZAF can work seamlessly together during a demanding exercise or in a joint scenario.”

Lucky enough to be the only two RNZAF members operating with Air Movements Section during the last three weeks, Corporal Jones said they had the opportunity to work with a range of new equipment, vehicles and aircraft.

“This experience has been unreal. We have learnt so much about how a larger Air Movements Section is run,” Corporal Jones said.

In addition to aircraft loading tasks for TS21, Corporal Jones and Leading Aircraftman Harris supported No. 23 Squadron with general freight for domestic and overseas missions, as well as humanitarian aid, including the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies to Fiji. 

For Leading Aircraftman Harris, this was his first overseas exercise. 

“I’ve never worked with Aussies before, so I was excited to apply for the position and be selected,” Leading Aircraftman Harris said.

“Our processes and mannerisms are so similar though, so it’s easy to fit into the team and understand the jargon.

“We are very fortunate to travel and have the chance to train with international partners. We have made so many friends who we hope to see again soon, maybe next time in New Zealand.”

A special edition Talisman Sabre newspaper is available here.

Keep up with the TS21 action here:

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Talisman Sabre 2021