Leading Aircraftman Chalin Sawangsri is the third generation of his family to serve in the military, rounding out the trio as an air force member.
CAPTION: Leading Aircraftman Chalin Sawangsri during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021. Story by Captain Diana Jennings. Photo by Corporal Brandon Grey.
Originally from Thailand, the network technician has followed his grandfather, who served in the Thai Army, and his father, who served in the Royal Thai Navy.
“Since I’ve joined the Royal Australian Air Force, we’ve got the triservice trifecta and they’re really proud of me,” Leading Aircraftman Sawangsri said.
“I’m definitely a Queensland boy now, growing up in Hervey Bay and based at RAAF Base Amberley.”
Enlisting in 2017 at age 19, he started his career as a communication electronic technician, then remustered to become a network technician in 2020, enjoying using his knowledge and training in the cyber environment with the tactical air control party on Exercise Talisman Sabre.
“My favourite part of the job is actually working with Army.
“I love being out in the field and in the tactical environment,” Leading Aircraftman Sawangsri said.
“The most challenging part of the job is planning all of the radio and satellite comms for large exercises where we are out in the field with limited connectivity and lots of air movements.”
Leading Aircraftman Sawangsri has deployed as part of the TACP within 3rd Brigade Headquarters on Exercises Brolga Run, Vital Prospect, Polygon Wood and Talisman Sabre, putting his skills to the test in some of the roughest environments.
“When I augment the TACP within 3rd Brigade Headquarters, I provide controllers with the ability to safely integrate all air users over the battlespace, including UAVs, surface-to-surface fires, fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft,” he said.
“We also ensure the brigade commander knows the air assets we have on station and the effects we can provide in support of the ground manoeuvre.
“It’s great to deploy with the TACP and see how both Army and RAAF work together on exercise.
“Sometimes, when comms go down, you go from zero to 100 to find a solution.”
Leading Aircraftman Sawangsri joined the RAAF to learn self-discipline, work in a team environment and meet new people.
“The work-life balance is great in the RAAF.
“I really didn’t know what to expect when I enlisted, but I’ve never looked back.
“I love my job.”
With aspirations to continue developing his trade knowledge as a network technician, Leading Aircraftman Sawangsri hopes to one day commission to an electrical engineer officer or loadmaster.
“Every day, the RAAF is changing and there’s always new opportunities.
“For anyone thinking of joining Defence, I’d say take the challenge – you never know what you’re going to get,” he said.