Ex. Powerful Owl 2021

From the 25 – 27 Mar 2021 members of 323SQN descended upon bushland surrounding RAAF Base Glenbrook for a weekend of fieldcraft and survival training. CSGT Costa Alexiou and CCPL Hadyn Mitchell organised the weekend which included:

  • Hootchie and survival shelter building.
  • Movements in the field.
  • Water procurement.
  • Camouflage and concealment.
  • 1st Aid Training.
  • Using radio telecommunication.
  • Field signals.
  • Making fires and cooking in the field.
  • An improvised field dining in night.

Where Exercise Wild Dog is usually conducted in the immediate bushland in the Lapstone Zig-Zag area, this activity expanded to as far as the Knapsack Reserve, Elizabeth Lookout and traversed the Knapsack Viaduct. The weekend was originally organised to be run with Day 2 occurring at the Glenbrook National Park, however due to severe flooding the National Park was closed.

The Field Exercise was the first of such an activity mounted by the unit. CSGT Alexiou and CCPL Mitchell worked hard on a changing schedule as terrain was and lessons were modified to give cadets best opportunity to learn new skills.

YouTube Video FEx Powerful Owl: https://youtu.be/lF3iWYaS-Kk

Clean Up Australia Day 2021

Cadets and staff from 323SQN rolled up their sleeves and led by CSGT Kate Roberts, tackled the streets around the Glenbrook Native Plant Nursery to pick up and dispose of refuse. This included the road to the Old Glenbrook Tunnel.

The Native Plant Plant Nursery even put on a great sausage sizzle for the cadets afterwards. The cadets were grateful for the assistance of the Nursery who also organised the event.

Excellent effort by the cadets and thanks to the Nursery for their support.

Video Highlights – https://youtu.be/67ZWCvEFJDM

25 New Recruits for 2021

Following a sudden return to regular operations after months of heavy restrictions, we were proud to induct 25 new recruits to 323 Squadron on the weekend of 27 – 28 Feb 21.

The new recruits were given a weekend of training which included:

  • Service knowledge
  • Drill and ceremony
  • Uniform fitting and instruction on how to wear it correctly

Recruits also bonded through team building activities and were introduced to other opportunities and skills that are taught in the Air Force Cadets.

We welcome all of our new recruits and look forward to helping them through their new cadet careers.

Final Parade 2020

The cadets of 323SQN 2020 assembled for the last time at the unit and pulled off a fitting Final Parade to see the year out and make history.

It’s not easy to pull off a full ceremonial parade in a brand new location with a year of no activities and little drill and ceremonial training. Yet you did it, though it was disappointing we couldn’t have family and friends attend on the day. This won’t be the case in 2021!

We acknowledge the following members who received our top awards on the day:
Most Proficient Cadet: A/CSGT Kate Roberts
Bartle Family Shield for Leadership – A/CSGT Cameron Ackley

Though both top award recipients were acting in their roles, they exhibited a high level of understanding of their rank at the unit, had a high level of attendance and were instrumental in the organisation and running of key activities within the unit.
They have now gone on and passed the PROMCSE 1/21 with CSGT Roberts receiving a Distinction and CSGT Ackley a Credit.
We were also thankful Wing Commanding Simon Bird, Commanding Officer of Defence Explosive Ordnance Training at Orchard Hills and boss of our late Executive Officer, Squadron Leader (AAFC) Dean Hawthorn, reviewed our parade. He acknowledged we had a challenging year with national restrictions and the passing of our beloved Executive Officer.
But he congratulated the unit on their amazing drill display and appearance.

His kind words and the full parade can be viewed on our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBhbyyx5aI8gFWoDC3R46zQ

Dining In Night 2020

In line with National Restrictions, the unit hatched a plan to finish up the year with an outdoor Dining In Night catered by the Alexiou’s and organised by A/CSGT Cameron Ackley.


A/CSGT Ackley shares his experiences from the evening: “Dining in Night 1/20 was an experience like no other. For the cadets at the Squadron, it was their first time ever having a dining in night under the stars. The planning of this dining in night had its own set of unique challenges and ideas compared to the other dining in nights I have organised.


I ensured to take my previous experiences running dining in night into account. I made sure to include ideas that had worked previously but added a new and unique twist on them. I had to thoroughly go through all our plans to ensure that we would be COVIDSafe, It was my primary objective to make the night an enjoyable experience whilst keeping the cadets and staff safe.
The planning was not all me though, I would like to give great thanks to CCPL Costa Alexiou, A/CCPL Keira Evans and LCDT Elizabeth Rimmer. Without these three cadets, Dining in Night wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable as it was. I would also like to express my gratitude to all the staff who assisted as well. It was great to see the smiles on the faces of the cadets and to know the cadets had an enjoyable experience.”


The staff and cadets thank A/CSGT Ackley for his and the Dining In Night team’s efforts. This also includes all those who volunteered Christmas decorations for the evening to give the parade ground a spruce up and setting up for the big night outside.
We were lucky to have had beautiful weather for the evening and celebrate the year that was. Though the team worked incredibly hard, the greatest reward was seeing the unit share some laughs, reminisce and throw some banter about. We adhered as closely as possible to the traditions of Dining In Nights and set a new standard for thinking outside of the box and adapting to situations dealt to us.

Remembrance Day At The Unit – 04 & 11 Nov 20

As a part of the Rona-tives programme of alternatives due to COVID19 Restrictions, 323SQN came up with the Remembrance Day at The Unit commemorations.


Due to alternate night parading, 2 FLT supported the 04 Nov and 1 FLT the 11 Nov. CIV Henry Hutchinson arranged for special VIP Guests which included representatives from St Marys, Glenbrook/Blaxland, Springwood and Katoomba RSL Sub-Branches. We also had Federal Member for Parliament Susan Templeman attend her only local Remembrance Day commemoration.


Cadet Flight Sergeant Benedict Zierholz led his catafalque party for 2FLT of CCPL Alex Cacciola, CCPL Costa Alexiou, A/CCPL Hadyn Mitchell and LCDT Elizabeth Rimmer. A/CSGT Kate Roberts and CCPL William Warren held the flags of the United Kingdom and New Zealand.


Acting Cadet Sergeant Cameron Ackley led LCDT Declan O’Riordan, LCDT Elizabeth Rimmer, CCPL Costa Alexiou and A/CSGT Kate Roberts during the 1FLT service.
A/CUO Joshua Cunningham led the unit on both occasions alternating with CWOFF Kieran Wright and A/CSGT Cameron Ackley.


A/CUO Thomas Ford read out the ode with prayers read by LCDT Neave McHugh and CDT Claire Van Ommen Kloeke. FLTLT(AAFC) Aaron Whittaker presented to the unit reflecting on the meaning of Remembrance Day, its origin and how it remains relevant to this day.


Of the special guests, 3 Wing Warrant Officer Tony Baldwin thanked the unit for the opportunity to see his only AAFC Remembrance Day event for 2020 and complimented the unit on its appearance and professional attitude to such a commemoration.

CIV Henry Hutchinson took the time to choreograph the event, invite and liaise with various special guests. The event will be repeated again when Remembrance Day falls on a week day. We urge cadets to consider attending the service in future, remember to ask your parents for permission and notify your school. We thank everyone for their amazing work and commitment to commemorating Remembrance Day at the unit.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.”

Remembering an Officer and a Gentlemen

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

Team Dean Relay – Doing It For Cancer Wrap Up

Whilst under an operational pause, CCPL Costa Alexiou who was going to lead our Relay For Life team adjusted our approach to bring the unit together to raise funds for Cancer Council research.


CCPL Alexiou shares his experience with adapting our regular relay to the operational pause and corona-virus restrictions and raising over $5000!
“I chose to run this activity as I wanted everyone to get involved during the operational pause. This was not only a great team building exercise and a great way to raise funds for fantastic cause, it also showed our support and appreciation to SQNLDR(AAFC) Dean Hawthorn for his ongoing dedication and support to the Squadron throughout the years.


At first it was challenging to spread the word around due to the COVID-19 Restrictions however, I was able to contact the 3 Wing Commander for support from not only our Squadron but to get all of 3 Wing involved. After restrictions started to ease I had the opportunity to start spreading the word to people outside of cadet.


For a week, I went to work with my parents and spread the word to the construction workers at the Crown Casino site and One Sydney Harbor Barangaroo. They were more than happy to support the great cause and very generously donated to help us to reach our goal and total amount which quickly grew to $5146.
Throughout the activity, I went on numerous runs, jogs and walk to try and achieve a solo attempt of 323km. Even though I did not achieve this goal I am still satisfied that I supported the cause. I went on my first Hike to Riley’s Mountain in Mulgoa and it was a fantastic view! As doing laps of my street and neighborhood started to get repetitive I started thinking unique walks I could do. I was able to walk up the fire stairs of the new Crown Casino being constructed all the way up to level 72 which was almost 270m above the ground!


I would finally like to thank everyone who participated in the activity it was a great cause and great effort from everyone and I am immensely proud of the effort put into this. Thank You!”

Ex-323 Cadets on the COVID-19 frontline

Over the past months our hospital and medical system has been under a increased workload to deal with the Coronavirus outbreak. LACW(AAFC) Courtney Gracie compares the medical response to cadets.


“I always knew that Teamwork is an important part of nursing and healthcare, but there is not time like a global pandemic to truly test a team’s ability to work under stress. Just like in the military nurses and junior doctors work together, like NCO’s, on the wards and units, assessing and implementing interventions to assist people return to health. The senior nurses and consultants are like the officers, managing and planning medical interventions and mentoring the juniors in times of stress and uncertainty. Working on one of the busiest wards in the hospital I get to assist in a lot of emergency situations.”


“Communication is always essential in these situations, and just like a SMEAC, we use a systematic process of explaining what has happened to a patient and how we are going to help them called ISBAR (Introduction, Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendations). During these high-pressure times I think of skills I learnt at cadets; use a clear, firm voiced so everyone can hear you over the chaos. Stand in a prominent place, like at the head of the bed, so people know who is in charge.”


“As a first year Registered Nurse entering the world of healthcare, I have been surprised about the mix of feelings the public has to healthcare professionals. On one hand the media see’s healthcare workers as “heroes” however others think we are all infected in the virus and spreading it through the community. It is saddening to hear how nurses are being physically and verbally abused in our community. I think it is important to remember although healthcare workers may seem tough and ready to take on challenges, we experience the same anxiety everyone else does. We don’t do what we do for special treatment, we do it because we want to help people get through vulnerable stages of their lives.”


ex-CCPL Emily Bouttell a Paramedic London Ambulance Service says; “Hope everyone is staying happy and healthy during these tricky times. It’s uncertain, it’s scary but everything in place is helping the community best fight the virus.”


We thank all the members of the health services working hard to reduce the impact of COVID-19. We are proud of our ex-members working the front line and hope for a an end to the pandemic.