It was only weeks into his first posting at No. 382 Squadron that Aircraftman Sam Schmidt found himself deploying to Solomon Islands as part of Operation Lilia.
CAPTION: Aircraftsman Sam Schmidt, left, guides a forklift operator while unloading a C-17A Globemaster III aircraft at Honiara International Airport, Solomon Islands. Story by Captain Peter March. Photo by Corporal Jarrod McAneney.
The young air movements operator completed his initial employment training in December last year, having only enlisted in the April prior, and now plays an integral part in the team tasked to assist the Solomon Islands Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My role is coordinating the airlift component,” Aircraftman Schmidt said.
“I ensure the right people are on the right aircraft, the right cargo is on the right aircraft, so if anything goes wrong we know what’s going where.”
One particular standout for Aircraftman Schmidt was the opportunity to marshal in a C-17A Globemaster carrying food and medical supplies bound for Solomon Islands provinces.
“At 382, that’s not something I’d do on a day-to-day basis, and it was awesome, I was so excited, that was a bit of a highlight,” he said.
Commanding Officer No. 382 Squadron Wing Commander Stuart Wheal was full of praise for the enthusiastic young aviator.
“Sam is a bundle of energy; he gets around everywhere with a smile on his face,” Wing Commander Wheal said.
“I actually thought that he’d find it quite daunting and be quite nervous, but I guess it’s a testament to the training that he’s received.
“He is comfortable with the training that he’s got, he’s got his sergeant here supervising him, making sure he ticks all the boxes and does the right thing, so the training has backed him up, by all accounts he did well on course and it shows.
“I said to him last night, ‘Are you having fun?’ and he said, ‘Boss, it’s the best it can be, we’re out here, helping another country’.”