75th Anniversary Reunion for No. 37 Squadron in July 2018

Members of the No 37 Squadron Association during a tour of a C-130J Hercules aircraft. Picture: Department of Defence
Members of the No 37 Squadron Association during a tour of a C-130J Hercules aircraft. Picture: Department of Defence

A REUNION to celebrate the 75th anniversary of No. 37 Squadron is planned for RAAF Base Richmond on Saturday, July 14.

Past members are invited to join their counterparts for the event - a 1940s-themed function held in the squadron's main hangar.

Wing Commander Matt Cooper, Commanding Officer of No. 37 Squadron, said the unit provided airlift ever since its origins at RAAF Base Laverton in July 1943.

Since February 1966, the squadron has called RAAF Base Richmond home.

Initially, No. 37 Squadron was equipped with a fleet of Lockheed Lodestar airliners, which could carry up to 18 passengers in relative comfort.

“The squadron was formed as the Allies took an upper hand in the War in the Pacific,” Wing Commander Cooper said.

“As the Allies advanced through the Pacific, there was a greater need for air transport to carry people and cargo, both within Australia and throughout the region.”

No. 37 Squadron transport missions took them throughout Australia, and then into New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies. In February 1945, the Squadron began re-equipping with the Douglas Dakota - slower than the Lodestar, but able to carry 28 passengers or up to three tonnes of cargo.

Today, the squadron flies the C-130J Hercules, which can accommodate more than 100 passengers, or up to 20 tonnes of cargo.

Amongst the milestones in the squadron's history include flying post-war courier missions to Japan; non-stop 14-hour medivac flights from Vietnam to Australia during the Vietnam War; and landing the first Hercules packed with aid relief in the wake of Cyclone Tracy's devastation of Darwin.

More recently, the squadron carries the 15-year legacy of continuous C-130 operations in the Middle East Region.

“Technology and circumstances have changed in 75 years, but the job of carrying Defence personnel and cargo remains a common experience to all generations of 37 Squadron," Wing Commander Cooper said.

With a history of service taking it around the globe, No. 37 Squadron has witnessed the rise of a close community of past and present members in recent years.

The celebration of the squadron's 70th anniversary in 2013 led to the creation of a No. 37 Squadron Association, which meets regularly on Anzac Day and other squadron anniversaries.

Col Coyne, a former Loadmaster and President of the No. 37 Squadron Association, said many former members were looking forward to the reunion this July.

“It’s easier now for us to connect past members of No. 37 Squadron with the present squadron, using Social Media to share our stories and learn about the current achievements,” Mr Coyne said.

“The 75th Anniversary however is an opportunity to celebrate our history under the one roof.”

Tickets for the Reunion will be $120, covering drinks, food and entertainment. The event is open to past and present members of No. 37 Squadron, their partners, and those with a close association with the squadron. Please note that this event is closed to media and the general public.

Tickets can be purchased at trybooking.com/book/event?eid=333197.