Wing Commander David Cooksley has put his skills in emergency, pre-hospital and retrieval medicine to good use since leaving New Zealand in the 1990s.

He came to Australia to undertake training in emergency medicine and now is part of  Air Force’s Health Operations Conversion Unit at RAAF Base Amberley as medical officer instructor for the Principal Military Critical Care Aeromedical Evacuation Team (MCAT) .

"I've always had an interest in the military but finally began thinking seriously about joining the ADF approximately 16 years ago while working in Townsville," Wing Commander Cooksley said.

"Townsville is a city with a strong military presence and I felt I might be able to contribute a little to the ADF with my medical knowledge and skills in emergency, pre-hospital and retrieval medicine.

"Now that I ponder about what it means to be part of Air Force's first 100 years, I'm incredibly proud, and feel genuinely blessed by the privilege, of being part of something so great."

The Australian Defence Force is well known for its humanitarian and disaster relief operations and Wing Commander Cooksley is working with the MRH90 Projects Office and Airbus Helicopters as one of the subject matter experts for the MRH90 helicopter aeromedical fit out, designed to enhance medical assistance when needed.

"Being a reservist and trying to manage a civilian career while making a useful contribution to Defence can be hard," Wing Commander Cooksley said.

"Working away from family for extended periods of time while on deployment or exercise is hard at times and without a very supportive wife and family it would be impossible. They're the unsung heroes.

"There’s still a little time for leisure though and in the past I used to fly aeroplanes and helicopters for fun and I'm keen to get back to that one day, soon.

"I'd love to build a kit plane that one can fly in."

The important work done by the Joint Health Command of the ADF contributed to the effective COVID-19 response by the ADF and the work of medical professionals like Wing Commander Cooksley continues to build on the extensive medical capabilities of the ADF.

"I think one thing that really surprised me is just how many different opportunities open up once you join the ADF - especially if you're willing to get involved," he said.

"I love the ability to contribute to something that's important for this nation.

"I love the camaraderie and opportunity to engage in interesting and challenging activities in Australia and abroad."

With people a strong focus of the Air Force Centenary, throughout 2020 and 2021 exceptional members who have contributed to the Air Force are being featured and Wing Commander Cooksley is a fine example of the thousands of people who make up Air Force. 

Planning is underway for the commemoration of the Royal Australian Air Force’s formation in March 1921 and further information may be obtained at airforce.gov.au/100