Queen’s Medal awarded to Aviation Warfare Officer

Published on SBLT Bianca Wise (author), ABIS Jesse Rhynard (photographer)

Topic(s): Queen’s Gold Medal

Aviation Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Lauren Ruse from 816 Squadron with an S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter on the flight line at HMAS Albatross. (photo: ABIS Jesse Rhynard)
Aviation Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Lauren Ruse from 816 Squadron with an S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter on the flight line at HMAS Albatross.

Lieutenant Lauren Ruse was recently announced as the winner of the prestigious Queen’s Gold Medal for her exemplary conduct, level of achievement and performance during S-70B-2 Operational Flying Training (OFT) last year.

Lieutenant Ruse said she was both surprised and honoured to receive the award.

“I was totally surprised! I didn’t even know I was nominated,” said the Aviation Warfare Officer.

Lieutenant Ruse beat out a competitive field of engineering, maritime warfare and pilot nominations to earn the highly coveted award.

“I’ve never really been competitive in my life, except on the netball court,” Lieutenant Ruse added.

The Queen’s Medal is open to all Navy personnel undergoing officer initial training and application courses leading to future career employment in the Service.

Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Vince Di Pietro highlighted the significance of Lauren’s achievement both for herself and the Fleet Air Arm.

“To be recognised in this way and from such a large field of potential candidates is absolutely terrific,” he said, “it’s a real pleasure to publicly honour and commend Lauren. Her efforts are of the highest standard and a credit to the Fleet Air Arm,” Commodore Di Pietro said.

Lieutenant Ruse of 816 Squadron was recognised for her excellent commitment and determined efforts towards self improvement during her OFT on the Seahawk helicopter.

Captain Mike Spruce, Director of Navy Training, elaborated on Lauren’s achievements.

“Lieutenant Ruse reached an outstanding standard of final ground and airborne examination, achieving one of the best final assessments seen in 816 Squadron for a number of years,” Captain Spruce said.

“In addition to her high level of performance, Lieutenant Ruse volunteered for almost every detachment, deployment and exercise that the squadron undertook during her training; producing outstanding results assisting in operations during Squadron Detachments.”

When looking back at the various experiences she has enjoyed since joining the Navy, Lauren lists her involvement in Flight Operations in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise in 2012 as one of her career highlights.

“Playing a part in the world’s largest international maritime exercise held around the Hawaiian Islands was never something I could have imagined when I first joined the military,” she said.

Hailing from the small country town of Tarcutta, New South Wales, Lauren first developed an interest in helicopters during her year final years at Wagga Wagga High School.

“It fascinated me how helicopters even flew, and studying the basic physics in high school made me want to get into that world,” she explained.

Following high school, Lieutenant Ruse completed an Oceanography and Geography degree at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

“It was a long road of study and training, but I enjoyed every minute of it,” she said, “once I got to 816 Squadron, I was so excited about finally doing the job I’d joined to do.”

At 27 years of age, Lieutenant Ruse said she still hasn’t lost her fascination for the world of aviation.

“Even now I get a kick every time we go flying; there is a moment in each flight where I think I can’t believe I get paid to do this. Seahawks are one of the best machines ever.”

Although she finds fun in each day, the Queen’s Gold Medal recipient has a busy year ahead with a deployment to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) later this year.

The Queen’s Gold Medal was first awarded as the King’s Gold Medal in 1916 and is one of the Royal Australian Navy’s oldest and most prestigious awards. Buckingham Palace allocates one Queen’s Gold Medal per year to the Royal Australian Navy, which is then delivered from London to the deserving recipient in a presentation ceremony.

Due to her MEAO rotation, the details of Lauren’s award presentation ceremony are yet to be determined.