In an historic moment, No. 79 Squadron’s colours were consecrated for the first time on November 20 at RAAF Base Pearce, Western Australia, bringing together four chapters in the unit’s 77-year history.
Standard colours are fringed and tasselled silk banners that have been in use by British forces for centuries, and are a symbol of the Sovereign’s trust in the unit or squadron that carries them.
No. 79 Squadron has been disbanded and reformed several times over the past 77 years.
Commanding Officer No. 79 Squadron Wing Commander Simon Ashworth said he was proud to command the squadron for the historic consecration parade.
“Most squadrons receive their standard colours after 25 years of service, however because of No. 79 Squadron’s unique history spanning four different chapters, it has taken us 75 years to reach this milestone,” he said.
“The presentation of the standard colours allows us to bring those four chapters together and it is incredibly humbling to reflect on our past.”
No. 79 Squadron was formed on April 26, 1943, to provide high cover for allied squadrons engaging the Japanese forces in New Guinea. It was here the squadron claimed its first aerial victory.
The squadron was then sent to New Britain where it conducted offensive sweeps and escort missions unitl being disbanded on November 12, 1945.
The squadron received battle honours for its operations in the Pacific, at New Britain and Morotai.
Most squadrons receive their standard colours after 25 years of service, however because of No. 79 Squadron’s unique history spanning four different chapters, it has taken us 75 years to reach this milestone.
No. 79 Squadron was reformed on May 29, 1962, and deployed to Thailand as part of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization commitment.
The squadron played a role in defending the United States Air Force base at Ubon, which by April 1965 had become an important base of operations.
The squadron was then disbanded in 1968, but on March 31, 2011, received a battle honour for its deployment to Ubon between May 1962 and August 1968.
No. 79 Squadron was re-formed for the third time at RAAF Butterworth, Malaysia, on March 31, 1986, where it conducted air defence and training duties and participated in multinational training exercises, including working closely with the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
By early 1988 the squadron was no longer needed and it departed Butterworth on May 3, 1988, and was formally disbanded again on June 30 of that year.
On July 1, 1998, 12 Macchi MB326H aircraft, eight flying instructors and about 100 maintenance and support staff were transferred from No. 25 Squadron to a re-formed No. 79 Squadron.
Shortly after, the BAE Hawk 127 aircraft was chosen for the RAAF to provide lead-in fighter training into the new millennium and on December 7, 2000, the first four Hawk 127 aircraft arrived at Pearce.
Since this date, No. 79 Squadron has continued its primary roles of lead-in fighter conversion training, flying instructor conversion training and support to training West Coast Fleet and Army units.
The Governor of Western Australia, Kim Beazley, represented the Governor-General at the consecration of the standard colours.
“The standard you have been awarded is a symbol of the Sovereign’s trust in No.79 Squadron, a shrine of the squadron’s achievements and a reminder of the devotion and sacrifices of your predecessors,” he said.
“It is fitting that your motto is Born for Action as it not only speaks to the dedication and commitment of all those who have served before you, but is an inspiration to all those who continue to serve within No.79 Squadron.”