Taipans free to enter Goolwa

Published on LCDR Dom Cooper (author), CPL David Gibbs (photographer)

Location(s): Goolwa, SA

Topic(s): 808 Squadron, Freedom of Entry

The Governor of South Australia, His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce, AC CS RANR (right) inspects 808 Squadron along with the mayor of Alexandrina Kym McHugh (in suit) and guard commander LEUT Colin McLeod (left). (photo: CPL David Gibbs)
The Governor of South Australia, His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce, AC CS RANR (right) inspects 808 Squadron along with the mayor of Alexandrina Kym McHugh (in suit) and guard commander LEUT Colin McLeod (left).

Fifty-four members of 808 Squadron (CMDR Charlie Stephenson) exercised their right to Freedom of Entry to Goolwa, South Australia over the weekend, carrying on a 26 year association of the Fleet Air Arm with the town.

808 Squadron adopted Goolwa as their hometown, following the decommissioning of 817 Squadron.

Led by the Commanding Officer, Commander Charles Stephenson and accompanied by the Royal Australian Navy band South Australia, 808 Squadron marched down Cadell Street, Goolwa with “swords drawn, drums beating, bands playing and colours flying.”

Following the challenge by the town Sheriff, Police Superintendent Rob Williams, 808 Squadron was granted freedom to enter and enjoy the hospitality of the town.

Another important part of the visit was a service held at the Goolwa RSL Sub Branch. During the service, a wreath was laid and the detachment paused to remember 817 Squadron members who have died in service - AB Michael Zeid, LEUT Huw Paffard, LEUT Matthew Goodall, LEUT Paul Kimlin, LEUT Jonathon King, and LSA Scott Bennett.

As with all visits to Goolwa, the billeting by host families of the Squadron members was one of the highlights with many new friendships made and quite a few old ones renewed.

“It was great to return to Goolwa with 808 Squadron and continue the long association between Navy and Goolwa that was previously evident with 817 Squadron,” said Warrant Officer David Carriage.

For some the Freedom of Entry was the first chance to visit the region.

“This was my first time travelling to Goolwa. I was very impressed with how the local community adopted the squadron as their own. Really looking forward to future visits,” said Leading Seaman Daniel Lane.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20132194.