Farewell to a distinguished Air Force leader

Air Force has honoured a former Chief of Air Force, retired Air Marshal Errol McCormack, who passed away in early April, aged 83.

CAPTIONFirst flight in A8-144 F111 for pilot WGCDR Errol McCormack. Story by Flying Officer Shan Galappatthy.

The funeral service for Air Marshal (retd) McCormack was held on April 22 at Anzac Memorial Chapel of St Paul, Royal Military College Duntroon.

Defence personnel and family attended the funeral commemorating the former Chief of Air Force’s extraordinary service.

Air Marshal (retd) Geoff Brown delivered a heartfelt eulogy during the funeral service and reflected on his relationship with Air Marshal (retd) McCormack, expressing gratitude for his mentorship, invaluable friendship and advice.

“Air Marshal Errol McCormack was an extraordinary leader and an outstanding aviator who dedicated his life to serving his country and the Royal Australian Air Force,” Air Marshal (retd) Brown said.

Air Marshal (retd) McCormack joined Air Force on March 9, 1962, graduating from 46 Pilots Course on June 27, 1963 and winning “Dux” of the course.

Throughout his career, he flew various aircraft including the F-111C, Canberra bomber, CA-27 Sabre, Dh-115 Vampire and the Winjeel.

His operational service included deployments to Singapore and Malaysia during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation while posted at RAAF Base Butterworth.

Following his tenure at Butterworth, Air Marshal (retd) McCormack deployed to support efforts in Vietnam and returned to Butterworth just eight months after leaving.

“Errol’s tour of Vietnam was actually for seven months and saw him fly 119 combat missions,” Air Marshal (retd) Brown said.

“What Errol refers to as his toughest but most productive years of his career occurred from 1989 to 1992.”

Following promotion to Air Commodore in 1989, Air Marshal (retd) McCormack filled the role of Director General Force Development (Air) and was responsible for projects including the Airborne Early Warning and Control, P-3 upgrade, the lead-in fighter and the C130-E replacement.

He was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia for his service in the role of Director General Force Development (Air).

In 1995, Air Marshal McCormack was posted to RAAF Base Butterworth as Commander Integrated Air Systems and returned to Australia to be Deputy Chief of Air Force in 1997.

“He was prepared to do what was required to achieve the best outcomes for the Air Force and the ADF,” Air Marshal (retd) Brown said.

“As Commander Integrated Air Systems, Errol was able to develop close and effective relationship with the Malaysian and Singaporean Defence Forces.

For his commitment and service as Commander Integrated Air Systems and as Deputy Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal (retd) McCormack was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1998.

Air Marshal (retd) McCormack served as Chief of Air Force from May 1998 to June 2001.

During his time as Chief he initiated many significant changes, determined to change Air Force culture to be collegiate.

“The mechanism for Errol’s culture change was the Senior Leadership Team, which I see as visionary,” Air Marshal Brown said.

“The Senior Leadership Team has and still does play a significant role in the success of Air Force.”

Air Marshal (retd) McCormack additionally had remarkable success in his subsequent career endeavours after the Air Force.

This included the creation of the Sir Richard Williams Foundation. He served as the founding Chair in October 2008, which was when the foundation developed the scope and range of its activities to become what it is today.

“I have been so fortunate to have had Errol as a mentor and to call him a friend,” Air Marshal (retd) Brown said.

“His passing is a great loss to the RAAF, the ADF and the Australian nation, but his legacy will endure for generations to come.

“I feel privileged to have known him.”

CAPTIONAir Marshal Errol McCormack, Chief of Air Force May 1998 – June 2001.


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