Ceremony and flypast at AWM for Magpie 91

A RAAF E-7A Wedgetail will perform a flypast over the Australian War Memorial on Monday 2 November in honour of Magpie 91, lost in Vietnam.

FILE PHOTO (2015): A No. 2 Squadron E-7A Wedgetail on a training sortie. Photo by Corporal Shannon McCarthy.

The E-7A Wedgetail from No. 2 Squadron, based at RAAF Base Williamtown, will track from Parliament House to the Australian War Memorial at a speed of 450 kilometers per hour and a height of no lower than 150 metres.

It will travel along Anzac Parade from the south-west to the north-east, arriving overhead the Australian War Memorial at approximately 5:25pm.

A ceremonial event at the AWM before the flypast will be attended by current serving No. 2 Squadron personnel to acknowledge the service and sacrifice of the loss of Flying Officer Michael Herbert, pilot, and Pilot Officer Robert Carver, navigator, who went missing on 3 November 1970.

Commanding Officer No. 2 Squadron, Wing Commander Jason Brown said the aircraft participating in the flypast held great historical significance and was adorned with commemorative nose-art completed by personnel deployed on Operation Okra in 2020.

“The nose-art combines the No. 2 Squadron lightning bolt emblem with the Unit’s World War II and Vietnam War decorations,” Wing Commander Brown said.

“This includes a United States Presidential Unit Citation, a Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, and a United States Air Force Outstanding Unit Commendation.

“As No. 2 Squadron has recently returned from operations in the Middle East, we remember those who have come before us and we honour their memory through our service contributions.”

On 3 November 1970, No. 2 Squadron Canberra Bomber, tail number A84-231, call sign ‘Magpie 91’, went down near the Laotian-Vietnamese border after completing a successful bombing mission in support of United States ground forces.

The cause of the crash remains unknown.

The aircrew were Flying Officer Michael Herbert, pilot, and Pilot Officer Robert Carver, navigator.

The last known radio transmission to the crew were from US ground controllers who praised their efforts by reporting, “That was an excellent run, sirs.”

Following the incident, No. 2 Squadron and the United States Air Force searched for the pair for three days, eventually declaring Flying Officer Herbert and Pilot Officer Carver as missing in action.

Their remains were eventually found and repatriated by a Defence Historical Unit on 31 August 2009.

No. 2 Squadron returned to Australia from Vietnam on 4 June 1971 after four years and two months of operations.

The Squadron flew over 11,900 combat missions during the conflict.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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