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VALE – Michael (Mick) Stuart Swain GM

Award Presentation

Michael (Mick) Stuart Swain GM – passed away peacefully on 15th of September, 2015 Aged 86 Years.  Dearly loved and devoted Husband to Mary.  Adored Father and Father-in-Law to Greg and Debbie, and Debbie and John.  Treasured Grandfather to Leah and Kaitlyn.  Family and Friends are invited to a celebration of Mick’s Life to be held at Centenary Memorial Gardens Chapel, 353 Wacol Station Road, Sumner on Monday 21st of September, 2015 commencing at 2.00 p. m.

Mick was residing at the RSL Pinjarra Hills Aged Care Community prior to his passing and he and Mary were regular attendees at the Friday morning teas provide by the Kenmore-Moggill Sub-Branch.  Mick’s attendance will be missed by Branch members and other members of the Aged Care Community.

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Michael (Mick) Stuart Swain GM, came from England to Australia as a member of the Barnardo Orphan Scheme.  After arrival his first billet was at Mudgee and then Walgett.  As a teenager he joined the Air Training Corps while working on a sheep station in the Walgett district.  When visiting Sydney on holidays in 1949, he joined the Royal Australian Air Force because it seemed like a good idea at the time and was immediately posted to Richmond (West of Sydney) for recruit training, and then on to Forest Hill (Wagga Wagga) for trade training as a Flight Rigger.

After training at Wagga Wagga he was posted to Point Cook, East Sale then back to Wagga Wagga for training as a Fitter 2A.  This trade later became what is known as Air Frame Fitter. Following Fitter 2A training Michael was posted to Archerfield (Brisbane) where he worked on Tiger Moths.

During his service career Michael had many more interesting postings including the British Occupational Forces in  Japan, Korea with No. 77 Squadron and Iwakuni (Japan) with DC3s supporting the local R & R run from Korea to Japan. His combined deployment duration was over 15 months in these overseas locations.  Additionally, he served at Richmond (NSW) and the VIP Flight at Canberra – he assisted with the aircraft which transported the Queen during her visit in 1954.  Postings to Uranquinty (near Wagga Wagga) Advanced Flight Training School, and Amberley No 3 Aircraft Depot where he worked on Lincoln aircraft followed.

While at Amberley he was selected to train on helicopters which saw him attend training courses with Hawker De Havilland at Bankstown.  The conversion from fixed to rotary wing was conducted on Bell 47G-2 helicopters which the Army were using.  After the conversion, Michael continued to work on helicopters with ARMYAIR for more than seven years until he was posted to No. 9 Squadron Amberley.  He spent the usual tenure of 12 months in Vietnam (1967/1968) based at Nui Dat with the Army’s 161 Recce Flight.  Following his service in Vietnam he returned to No. 82 Wing Amberley as a Warrant Officer Engineer until 1970 when he retired for family reasons after a distinguished 21 years service.

During his posting to ARMYAIR Michael was test flying a helicopter with the pilot on 1st November 1961 when it lost power, crashed and immediately caught on fire near Amberley.   Michael escaped quickly and was running away from the crash when he heard the pilot calling for help.  Unselfishly he returned to the aircraft and released the pilot with little thought for his own safety.  The rescue was successful although the pilot was on fire but Michael managed to extinguish the burning pilot by taking off his overalls and smothering the flames. Both men survived their injuries, Michael returned to his work with ARMYAIR but sadly the pilot’s army career was over due to his injuries.  For this act of bravery Michael was awarded the George Medal – the Citation is below.

Medal Citation

“On 1st November, 1961, Sergeant Swain was flying as a technical crew member of a Bell Sioux Helicopter of No. 16 ALA Squadron when the aircraft crashed. On impact the port side fuel tank ruptured and burned fiercely, particularly on the pilot’s side of the aircraft.

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Sergeant Swain released his harness and escaped from the burning wreck with his clothing alight.  He then heard a call for assistance from the pilot, who was unable to release his harness.  Sergeant Swain, with complete disregard for his personal safety, returned to the flame-enveloped cockpit to assist the pilot from the aircraft.  At this stage there was a very great risk of explosion of either the whole of the wreckage, or from the starboard fuel tank.

After assisting the pilot from the aircraft, Sergeant Swain attempted to smother with his hands the pilot’s clothing.  This was unsuccessful so he attempted to remove the pilot’s flying suit.  Being unable to do so he removed his own overalls and with them extinguished the flames enveloping the pilot.

Sergeants Swain’s face and hands were severely burnt by his action. At hospital, after the rescue, the pilot was placed on the dangerously ill list and sergeant on the seriously ill list.

During this emergency Sergeant Swain showed a complete disregard for his own safety.  His coolness, self-discipline and courage in the face of great danger were in keeping with the highest traditions of the service.”

 

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