Chief and recruit bond with promises, and a coin

A special reunion took place at the latest graduation ceremony at Air Force’s No. 1 Recruit Training Unit (1RTU) at RAAF Base Wagga.

CAPTION: Former chief of Air Force, Air Marshal (retd) Gavin ‘Leo’ Davies, with Aircraftwoman Brooklynn Dowling after her graduation from recruit training, holding the challenge coin the former chief had given to her five years ago. Story by Squadron Leader Matthew Kelly. Photo from Cut Above Productions.

Aircraftwoman Brooklynn Dowling graduated on May 11, and was pleased to have a special guest attend the ceremony.

In 2017 before joining the Air Force, she met then-chief of Air Force Air Marshal (retd) Gavin ‘Leo’ Davies, at the Australian War Memorial.

They met again at a regional air power presentation in 2019.

At both meetings, Aircraftwoman Dowling told Air Marshal Davies of her aspiration and commitment to joining the Air Force.

During their first encounter, Air Marshal Davies presented Aircraftwoman Dowling with an Air Force challenge coin, which he said she could keep on the promise she went ahead with her application.

It was at their second meeting that Air Marshal Davies said he would like to attend Aircraftwoman Dowling’s graduation from recruit school when she got that far.

Aircraftwoman Dowling did enlist, and didn’t forget that request.

When nearing completion of her recruit training, she wrote to the Chief of Air Force’s office to invite Air Marshal Davies to her graduation.

He accepted the invitation and attended the graduation parade, saying the circle was, in one sense, now complete.

“This series of events is what I feel makes careers, new and old, special,” Air Marshal Davies said.

“An aircraftwoman bothering to reach out to a former chief of Air Force is a tremendous sign of the talent we have waiting to join our Air Force.”

Aircraftwoman Dowling said she was excited to introduce Air Marshal Davies to her parents, Catherine and Jim.

“To be able to say that a former chief of Air Force attended your graduation is a dream come true,” Aircraftwoman Dowling said.

“I’m on top of the world!”

Aircraftwoman Dowling said these interactions were a tremendous inspiration as she looked forward to the next chapter in her Air Force career.

“I’m very hopeful for the future and now have an understanding of the foundations of Air Force that all musterings provide, and I’m looking forward to making my contribution,” she said.

The graduation also provided an opportunity for Air Marshal Davies to revisit RAAF Base Wagga.

He toured the 1RTU precinct and was able to reflect on the changes that have occurred in the Air Force since he retired as chief of Air Force in 2019.

“I feel today that we’ve allowed young folk to have more breadth in the contribution they make to the organisation, and the recruits are then graduating with an understanding of air power that didn’t exist at their level 25 years ago,” Air Marshal Davies said.

“The shift from then to now is a very different dynamic, and a very good one.”

Deputy Air Commander Air Commodore Ben Sleeman reviewed the parade and presented the graduation certificates and awards.

Continuing a tradition, there was a flypast for Recruit Course 04/22, which was conducted by the crews of two Pilatus PC-21s from No. 4 Squadron.





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