Introducing Warrant Officer Gerry Mapstone OAM.
Gerry joined the RAAF 1966 and in 1967 became an Airfield Defence Guard and was posted to South Vietnam.
On arrival in Vietnam, having previously lead an Aussie life, Gerry was told that the weather was fine and there was only light to moderate ground fire.
He was given the opportunity to become an Iroquois Door Gunner with 9 Squadron. His duties were to assist in medical evacuation, loading and unloading of stores and personnel and to protect, by the use of twin M60 machine guns, his side of the aircraft. He flew missions such as sniffer missions, psychological warfare, leaflet dropping, VlP missions, Command and Control, Special Air Service patrol insertions and extractions and generaI hash and trash.
The highlights of that time were flying in support of the Tet Offensive near Saigon and the battles of Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral.
Gerry particularly enjoyed dustoffs as he felt that 9 Squadron did some great work retrieving soldiers and civilians from the battlefield and taking them to safety and to hospitals.
In early 1973, he again joined 9 Squadron who had returned from Vietnam. 9 Squadron were known as the nomadic ninth as they shifted from one place to another. Main tasking was Army operations, Search and Rescue, and Survey operations from Sumatra to lrian Jaya. Gerry also flew in Papua New Guinea with the Pacific lsland Regiment.
Gerry flew in weather from the tropics to the snow.
ln 1974, he was involved in flood rescues all around lpswich, Brisbane and the areas up to Toowoomba. The rescues consisted of rooftop rescues, ferrying people and goods to and from areas which were inundated and “flying past our families who were trapped by floodwaters in the married quarters”.
Operations were often dangerous but it was satisfying work. “We lost a pilot in a crash in lrian jaya in the seventies”.
I was twice posted to United Nations Emergency Force in Sinai Egypt.
These are snippets to the life of a helicopter crewman. Listen to Gerry for his accounts of a dangerous but thrilling life.