Commando News Spring17

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A RIVER OF SWEAT

by Martin BLANDY (1 CDO COY, 1 st CDO REGT 1981-1985)

Anyone who served in one of Australia’s Commando

units will well remember the blood, sweat and tears we

shed to earn the right to wear (and continue wearing) the

coveted Sherwood Green beret with a fake leather band.

This story does not involve the shedding of any blood

or tears but does concern perspiration, a river of sweat.

Friday the 27 May, 1983 was a fine autumn morning

when members of 1 Commando Company, 1 st Commando

Regiment, departed CHQ at Georges Heights (Mosman)

in Sydney for Richmond Air Force Base to undertake a

water jump into Shoal Bay.

Shoal Bay is approximately 160 kilometres in a direct

line from RAAF Richmond and is better known for the

township of Nelson Bay. It is also only 20 or so kilometres

from the Salt Ash DZ, where many of us were first

introduced to the most fun you can ever have with your

pants on!

On arrival at RAAF Richmond we

milled around for the customary 30

minutes or so before donning wet

suits in preparation for our water

jump.

Then followed interminable delays

while weather reports came in of low

cloud over the DZ (hey guys, it’s a

water jump – low cloud and/or high

wind speed doesn’t matter!).

By now, it was mid-morning and

despite it being autumn, the

temperature was climbing steadily

and sitting around in a full 7 mm thick

wetsuit was starting to become a tad

uncomfortable.

Finally, we received the order to

draw parachutes and form up for

“Para Parade”, the fanatical safety

checking of paratroopers and

parachutes that helped our Parachute

Training School remain fatality-free for

so long. Then came the much

awaited order to “Emplane” and

finally we were on our way.

The flight from RAAF Richmond to

Shoal Bay is of short duration and

most of us were eagerly looking

forward to the jump and being able to

cool off after nearly three (3) hours in

our wetsuits. On arrival at the DZ the

rear ramp of our Lockheed Hercules

C130H was lowered in preparation for

the jump but, unfortunately, the

DZSO had other ideas. You guessed

it, low cloud – so we circled around

and around and around and around.

I was sitting about halfway along

the port side gazing idly out the rear

ramp looking at the cool, inviting

waters of Shoal Bay when I noticed

the port side RAAF Loadmaster, with left arm extended

and index finger pointing at the floor, start advancing up

the fuselage. As he neared me I glanced down to see

what was attracting his attention. It was a small river of

clear liquid that he had tracked from the rear ramp, some

10 or 12 metres away. He passed me and stopped at the

cuff of the right ankle of the wetsuit of one of our

members two or so seats from me. Upon looking up into

the eyes of the source of the trail, our Greek member

coolly yelled: “It’s sweat”!

The irony is that within five (5) minutes or so, we were

in the water after completing our 1,200 foot descent. I

don’t know why he couldn’t be like the rest of us and wait!

Postscript: To protect the innocent, I am prepared to

say that our prolific “sweater” was NOT ‘Fiasco’ (Gary

FIAKOS) but another member with Greek heritage.

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition 11 I September 2017 41

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