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Drew Dale
Proud Dunghutti man, born and raised on Palawa Country; Lutruwita (Tasmania), with kinship ties to the Gamilaroi nation.

Royal Australian Air Force
Australian Active Service Medal (AASM) with clasp Timor
Australian Service Medal (ASM) with clasp Irian Jaya

Australian Army
Australian Defence Medal (ADM)
Defence Long Service Medal (DLSM)

At 17 years of age, I enlisted in the RAAF, eventually completing tours of duty in Timor and Irian Jaya, and a posting to RAAFSUTG Singapore. At the time, of my enlistment, during the early 1970s, Aboriginal people suffered open discrimination, racial vilification, and other forms of abuse. With this framework in mind, I was ‘forced’ by my family to hide my Aboriginal ancestry. The family had always been very strict about not discussing Aboriginal heritage, they considered it too shameful. This is a decision that I have always regretted.

In November 1975 I deployed to Timor to assist with the repatriation of Australian Nationals caught up in the fighting that culminated in the murders of the Balibo Five, Australian and New Zealand journalists reporting on events in Indonesia’s invasion of Timor, the previous month. In April 1977, I was deployed to Irian Jaya on Operasi Pemetan Cenderawasi, providing cargo handling, aircraft weight and balance calculation, and aircraft ground handling until July 1977 when I returned to Australia. I have served in both the RAAF and Army, so my career, although comprising only 15 years full-time and 2 years part-time, has spanned 50 years.