At the Australian War Memorial’s Last Post Ceremony on Saturday, the late Leading Seaman Aircrewman Noel Ervin Shipp was commemorated with his family and members of the Royal Australian Navy’s Fleet Air Arm in attendance. The occasion fell on the 45th anniversary of the sailor being killed in action in Vietnam.
Leading Seaman Shipp is remembered for determinedly engaging the enemy under heavy fire, with the M60 machine gun that was mounted in the door of his Iroquois helicopter. Exposed to heavy automatic fire, the helicopter crash landed and Leading Seaman Shipp was seen to continue firing at the enemy right until the moment of impact.
Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Vince Di Pietro and other members of the Fleet Air Arm represented the Royal Australian Navy at the Last Post Ceremony.
After the ceremony, Commodore Di Pietro met with Leading Seaman Shipp’s family, who had travelled a significant distance to Canberra honour the memory of Leading Seaman Shipp. Attending family members included Leading Seaman Shipp’s widow, Gloria, son, Darren, and granddaughter, Eryn.
Eryn said she was sad about not having had the chance to know her Grandfather, but was determined to pursue a career as an Aircrewman in the Navy, just like him.
“I am a Navy Cadet, but in a few years I want to become an Aircrewman in the Navy.
“It was a long way to drive from Victoria, but it meant so much to dad and I to be here,” she said.
Upon hearing of Eryn’s determination to join the Navy, Commodore Di Pietro presented her with a Fleet Air Arm coin.
“It’s so important to encourage younger Australians to hear the real stories of those men and women who are an essential part our national history. The Australian War Memorial and its commemorations keep alive the selfless service and extraordinary stories of those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice,” Commodore Di Pietro said.
“Eryn is so keen to follow in the footsteps of a grandfather that she never met and to serve her country. I can never get enough of such enthusiasm. It is really terrific.”
The Naval Ode and a historical reading of Leading Seaman Shipp’s story were conducted by Chief Petty Officer Aircrewman Benjamin Sime, a current serving member of the Fleet Air Arm and a recipient of the Medal for Gallantry for his actions as a Seahawk S-70B-2 Aircrewman during a waterborne terrorist attack in the North Persian Gulf, Iraq, during Operation CATALYST.
Every single day, at the Australian War Memorial’s Last Post Ceremony, a current serving member of the Australian Defence Force reads the story of a lost sailor, soldier or airman whose name is recorded on the honour roll.
Imagery is available on the Australian Defence Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20141594.