RAAF C27J Spartan Loadmaster Corporal Antonia Guterres has been hands-on in helping deliver supplies to fire-affected communities in isolated regions of Victoria.

From No. 35 Squadron at RAAF Amberley, Corporal Guterres is part of a team currently located at RAAF East Sale supporting the local emergency services.

“Getting the first group of evacuees out of Mallacoota was an experience I’ll never forget,” Corporal Guterres said.

“They were all so grateful and the children were great, I gave them some lollies to help lift their spirits during a turbulent time.

“My role as a Spartan Loadmaster is quite varied; anything from checking the aircraft over pre-flight, loading and correctly weighting cargo, undertaking in-flight supply drops and even helping with search and rescue operations.”

During Operation Bushfire Assist, Spartan crews have so far been responsible for moving more than 330 evacuees, 181 firefighters, 24 police officers, 28 medics, 10 veterinarians, 55 emergency service contractors, 22 cats and dogs, and three koalas.

“I grew up in Springwood in Brisbane and worked in recruitment before joining the ADF in 2018 as a Loadmaster, so this has been an incredible and memorable experience early in my Defence career,” she said.

“My team also flew 30 AUSNET line workers from Albury Wodonga to a small Corryong airfield so they could begin restoring power to the town.

“At Merimbula, we brought home the same group of firies that we dropped there early in the operation, we were all happy to see each other again.

“The camaraderie between everyone involved in this bushfire emergency assist is pretty special.”