On the 99th birthday of the Royal Australian Air Force, three personnel deployed on Operation Accordion with more than 99 years of combined experience have reflected on how the Air Force has changed during their careers.    

Flight Sergeant Russell Vine, who is deployed as the Visa Coordination Cell Second in Command, joined the Air Force in 1984 as a clerk medical. 

Throughout his 36 years in the orderly room he has witnessed type writers become computers, filing cabinets become floppy disks and the pay line migrate to PmKeys. 

“A to K, L to Z, lining up every fortnight to collect your pay. I was a V so I was always right down the back waiting for my pay in the envelope,” Flight Sergeant Vine said.

Having worn a few different uniforms in the past 30-odd years, one stands out to him.  

“I miss the ‘drabs’, or tropical dress as it was known,” he said. “In two postings to Butterworth I used to wear the drab shorts, the drab shirt and the long socks.”   

Squadron Leader John Millar enlisted in 1988 as a direct entry tradesman, posting to No. 5 Squadron at RAAF Fairbairn to work on Iroquois helicopters. 

In a career spanning 32 years he has since gone on to instruct recruits, maintain a variety of aircraft and is a former Warrant Officer of the Air Force.   

Squadron Leader Millar said no single experience stood out because his whole career had been memorable.  

“From 1988 to 2020 I’ve seen the Air force change dramatically thanks to the technological enhancement,” Squadron Leader Millar said.

“The greatest thing I do is work with young people. They are smart and they are the Air Force of tomorrow. You see the excitement in their eyes and I know the Air Force is in phenomenal hands.” 

Flight Lieutenant Michael Truscott joined under the RAAF apprentice scheme in 1983 and was an aircraft technician initially on P3 Orion and a variety of other roles before commissioning. 

After 37 years Flight Lieutenant Truscott is on his first operational deployment in the Middle East, where he works as the Assistant Host Nation Liaison Officer. 

He said the opportunity to deploy had been a highlight of his career and he has enjoyed the challenge. 

“Put your hand up and take opportunities as they arise, don’t sit back and wait for other people to do things, and experience as much as you can,” he said.   

The three are celebrating Air Force’s birthday alongside 600 other Australian Defence Force members at the main logistics base in the Middle East region.