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Are you married, have children? I’m married with three children aged 10, 14 and 22. What do they and the rest of your family think of the honour? They all think it is great that there has been some sort of recognition for mucking up their 2004 Xmas. Other family members are intrigued as to why and what did I actually do. They thought, as I did, that I was just doing my job. How did you find out about the tsunami and what were your first thoughts? Via phone call from the CO No. 40 Squadron, WGCDR Davies. I didn’t appreciate the scale of the problem/length of time it would take to rectify the situation but this slowly unfolded over the first few weeks. Why did you volunteer to go to Jakarta? It was just part of the job. How long were you there for? About a month. Did you go up on a C-130? Yes. We did a change over of aircraft and personnel. What were you doing on a day-to-day basis? Maintaining the aircraft as best we could considering the limited support at Jakarta. Part of that involved balancing the manpower resource, as the tasking was pretty consistent (every day) and then preparing the aircraft once it returned in the evening for the next day’s flight. This often required working through the night. What was the biggest challenge? The language and cultural differences. There was a one to two and a half hour drive each day (depending on traffic) to get to the airport. This presented a few problems at times with our taxi drivers. In the end we were given a full time driver who stayed with us at the airport until we finished work. He would sleep in the van and we would keep him supplied with bottled water - a precious commodity over there. Describe what it was like: We were unable to get out and about as far as sight-seeing goes as the Australian embassy had been bombed only weeks earlier. This had resulted in a very security conscience stance. So, we saw lots and lots of the inside of the hotel, the inside of the taxi van and the C130 we were working on. There were a couple of malls that were safe to visit.



If commitment had a dollar value Cadet Unit Commander SQNLDR Sandy Stonell would be a very rich person indeed. It was for her ongoing commitment to cadets at No.75 Arawa (Rotorua) and No.65 Kawerau Squadrons that SQNLDR Stonell was awarded a Queens Service Medal (QSM) in the 2006 New Year Honours List.

they reach a goal,’ she says. And occasion- ally she sees her cadets go on to bigger and better things with a career in the Air Force. She is particularly involved in helping organise the ATC annual gliding school. ‘I give up one week a year for it. But if you enjoy something you might as well keep doing it, and I really enjoy it.’

The medal is not a military honour (she was nominated by a local MP and commu- nity leaders) but recognises the significant contribution and public service nature of her long-time support of Air Training Corps cadets in her region. The former RNZAF officer isn’t one to ‘blow’ her own trumpet and sees the award as acknowledgment of the huge amount of time and effort all Cadet Forces personnel put into their work. The payback, she says, is seeing young people achieve positive goals. ‘I just love the look on their faces when

In an age when fewer young people are joining organised groups it is refreshing to see the ATC’s 50-plus Squadrons throughout New Zealand continuing to offer self-discipline, guidance and self esteem through achievement thanks to the efforts of people like SQNLDR Sandy Stonell. As one of her ATC collegues observed of her command of two Squad- rons: ‘Well done to Sandy undertaking such a huge responsibility and it will be this sort of thing that has earned her the award.’



Were you surprised to be named in the New Years Honours list? Very surprised. I had recommended CPL Knight as the Maintenance person put forward. I certainly had no idea that I was also on that list. What were your first thoughts when you found out? It must be in recognition for all those that were involved with the effort - and believe that that is the intention. What other RNZAF deployments have you been on? With No.40 Squadron - 1990 Amman airlift Boe 727; 90/91 Op Fresco Gulf War, Riyadh; 2003 Kyrgyzstan; 2003 Solomon Islands, 2005 Afghanistan. With No.3 Squadron - East Timor.

Has anything stuck in your mind about the deployment to Jakarta? The great teamwork that made it so easy. Would you do it again? Of course. Any other comments? It is very easy to motivate a team when there is a real reason. We exercise and practice but it is not the same! I saw the same dedication and commitment during the Gulf War when all the maintenance team put the task needs well ahead of their own needs

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    working long hours for days on end, willingly.

We don’t get many chances to see that sort of response these days, thank goodness. But it is great to know that, if required, that sort of surge capacity is alive and well in our organisation.

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