Story and photos by Kendrea Rhodes
On June the 6th, with weapons drawn and Banner flying, the 16th Air Defence Regiment marched down the main street of Woodside to the beating drums of the Australian Army Band, Adelaide. They were exercising their right to the Freedom of Entry to the township, which was granted to the Regiment in 1996 by the citizens of Woodside.
Saturday’s parade marked the 40th Anniversary (almost to the day) of the raising of the regiment in Woodside, on June 2nd, 1969. Joining the formal parade in camouflage uniform was the 110th Air Defence Battery, who recently returned from service in East Timor.
Deputy Mayor, Mr. Bill Gale, was received on parade with a general salute and together with the Host Officer, Colonel Reg Foster (retired) and the Commanding Officer, LTCOL John McLean, they inspected the troops. The Deputy Mayor’s address to the townspeople and Regiment was heartfelt and concluded with a rallying 3 cheers from the crowd, for the 16th Air Defence Regiment.
The parade was a moving display of mutual respect between soldier and citizen, with the Regiment saluting the town’s people, while they in turn applauded the Regiment and its Banner. The granting of “Freedom of Entry” is an old military tradition possibly dating from the medieval times. It demonstrates the honour, trust and connection a town has to its Army Unit, by allowing that unit the freedom to march its streets.
Later in the afternoon, the Woodside Barracks were open to the local community. Historical weapons and vehicles, including the Redeye Missile and Rapier Missile Systems, were on display. There was an obstacle course for children, information stalls and a BBQ. Many visitors tried their skills on the Weapon Simulators, but the big winner was the Advanced Air Defence Simulator demonstrations on the RBS 70 Weapon. They were held within a huge dome, approx. 15m in height, surrounded by a simulated hilly desert scene. In the centre of the dome sat the RBS 70, which visitors were invited to use against the simulated enemy aircraft. Warrant Officer, Mark Scheidl talked us through the benefits of simulation training, while Bombardier Dale Barron, guided the visitors using the simulation weapon.
An interesting day out and one in which we are grateful for the privilege. It filled us with pride and wonder in the knowledge that these are some of the people who lay their lives on the line to defend us and our country.
Pictured: Bombardier, Matthew Kelsey, showing Dougie Rhodes of Lobethal an inert RBS 70 weapon (top); The 110th Battery recently returned from active duty in East Timor (above).