On the 14 October 2020, 323 Squadron came together with former cadets, staff from the senior leadership team from 3 Wing, the Officer Commanding 3 Wing and guests from Defence Establishment Orchard Hills to farewell an amazing staff member.
Squadron Leader (AAFC) Dean Hawthorn had a short career in the AAFC in comparison to his other life achievements. Dean had come to the unit to help with the Parent Support Committee and quickly became a friendly face that was there to feed the unit at a field exercise with a smile and a funny story.
With service as a Victorian Air Training Corps cadet, Australian Army and a former aviation Fire Fighter, Dean became a candidate to serve as a staff member. He was inducted as Officer of Cadets and was promoted to Pilot Officer (AAFC) in 2015. He worked in the Training Office and become the Training Officer. With vast WHS consultation experience Dean became the Unit Safety Coordinator
When the former Executive Officer departed, he was the best candidate to fill the position. He brought with it much wisdom, passion for firearms training and for mentoring cadets into their roles and positions.
It didn’t take long for his promotion to Flying Officer (AAFC) and a snappy application to Wing for the position of Staff Officer Wing Safety for 3 Wing and his last promotion to Squadron Leader (AAFC). He is pictured above with his daughter Ashley and son Ryan proudly applying his new rank slides.
Dean continued to wear many hats, in addition he attended 3 Wing rifle shoots and trained cadets from all over the wing on how to use a rifle and shoot correctly.
In his time he had suffered a back injury from a large car crash. His back pain seldom stopped him from loading up the big Hino truck for Field Exercises.
In his time at the unit, he was Host Officer for the last Tri-Service Cadet parade at Glenbrook, received a Unit Commendation in 2016 in front of the Sydney Opera House during the 3WG Freedom of Entry Parade, acting Commanding Officer a number of times, he headed many unit inaugural events such as the first catafalque parties in Leura and Katoomba.
He will be sadly missed, but we must remember the good times and the great passion and compassion he brought to the Air Force Cadets. We will continue to raise donations for the Cancer Council and remember to answer “Good and thank you for asking!”
Video of Dean’s Memorial at 323SQN: https://youtu.be/pmSLG9Gc1EM