More than forty years ago, seventeen year old Wayne Silverman said goodbye to his family and friends in Busselton, Western Australia, and joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The rest, as they say, is history.
Now 57, Warrant Officer Silverman is currently deployed to Eindhoven Airfield in the Netherlands as a RAAF C-17A loadmaster supporting Operation Bring Them Home - the recovery and repatriation effort focussed on downed aircraft MH-17.
“I actually chalked up my 40th anniversary the day we arrived in the Netherlands from Australia,” he said.
“This operation is basically two major milestones for me personally. My 40 years and a tasking that I will never forget; both very significant for me.”
As a C-17A loadmaster from RAAF Base Amberley near Brisbane, Wayne oversees and assists in all loading and unloading of the aircraft including vehicles, passengers and cargo. In the Netherlands the loadmasters have been a vital cog in the effort to transport supplies, personnel and equipment between Eindhoven and Kharkiv in the Ukraine.
Forty years of commitment, including 30 years as a loadmaster is an impressive record in anyone’s language. When you take into consideration much of that time has been spent on global deployments like Operation Bring Them Home, you have an individual who has certainly put service before self.
“I’ve been on a myriad of deployments,” he said.
“My first time working overseas was when I was deployed to the Sinai - that was just after I became a loadmaster. Since then it’s been ongoing jobs anywhere in the world at any time.
“I’ve had five deployments to the Middle East Area of Operations on C-130 Hercules. On the C-17A I’ve been back and forth between Australia and the Middle East and Afghanistan.”
It’s easy to see how Wayne recently chalked up 10,000 flying hours on RAAF Aircraft.
“People keep asking, ‘how are you doing all this at your age?’”, he said.
“I work smarter not harder. At the end of the day the job hasn’t changed all that that much. My job is really about interacting with people and getting the best from those around you.
“I plan to keep working for as long as I can, because I love it. I’m obviously looking forward to seeing my children and grandchildren after this operation but then I’ll go home to Sherwood and start preparing for my next job, wherever that is in the world.”