No joke: aviator’s surprise at King’s medal

When air surveillance operator Corporal Timothy Nevin was on the last deployment to use ‘BlueJay’, he couldn’t believe it was going to be turned off.

CAPTION: Corporal Timothy Nevin was awarded a Conspicuous Service Medal in the King’s Birthday honours. Story and photo by Corporal Melina Young.

BlueJay is part of 3 Control and Reporting Unit’s deployable Link 16, a tactical data network that exchanges information between land, sea and air platforms.

“It was due to be shut down because of engineering issues,” Corporal Nevin said.

“I thought, ‘Well, this is a huge capability. Surely there is something we can do to keep this running?’”

He wanted to preserve and modernise the ageing system so it continued to share real-time information, as well as increasing its potential range.

Further developing the new Link 16 capability required organising new terminals and associated hardware.

“I had to procure new laptops and work out sustainment and costings, to ensure the equipment will survive long-term,” Corporal Nevin said.

“Once I had all the equipment, I then got approval to join the networks, which required full security analysis.”

He also organised courses and funding availability to upskill operators, while generating ‘how to’ documents.

Many of Corporal Nevin’s technical skills are self-taught, thanks to his fascination with data that can be moved from a computer onto a radio wave, to be received somewhere else.

“It’s grown into a bit of a beast and we use it at 3 Control and Reporting Unit and 114 Mobile Control Reporting Unit, and we are starting to integrate with tactical air control party,” he said.

“The unit is getting asked to do more with this kit, and it’s starting to get recognised as something that needs to be sent out the door all the time.”

One morning at work, when Corporal Nevin read an email asking him to accept or reject a Conspicuous Service Medal, he thought he was getting ‘punked’.

“It was pretty mind-blowing to find it in my inbox. I thought ‘surely this can’t be real?’,” he said.

In a haze of disbelief, Corporal Nevin approached his chain of command, who confirmed he was not the butt of a joke.

Corporal Nevin was nominated for meritorious achievement in deployable Link 16 development and enhancement of Tactical Data Link capability.

He immediately shared the news with his wife, who was equally surprised.

“I am humbled and flattered to receive acknowledgment for simply doing something that I love,” Corporal Nevin said.

Growing up in Ipswich, Corporal Nevin can recall the inspirational stories his father and grandparents told of their time serving in the Air Force and Army.

At 27, he knew it was ‘now or never’ to join. He followed his childhood dream – enlisting in 2016 – and has never looked back.





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One thought on “No joke: aviator’s surprise at King’s medal

  • 10/07/2023 at 9:58 am

    Caeful here with titles: the King’s medal is for military marksmanship. One of my ORs won it in the mid-70s.


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