LACW Simone Liebelt
President George W. Bush thanks Squadron Leader Linda Corbould
from 36SQN, who served as a C-130 pilot in the Middle East
during Operations Bastille and Falconer.
by CPL Darren Hilder
Sergeants John Forth from 28SQN and Phil Gardham from AFDPCC
guard Air Force One at Defence Establishment Fairbairn during
the President’s visit to Canberra.
by LACW Simone Liebelt
Air Force played a key security role both in the air and on the
ground during President Bush’s visit to Canberra on October 22-23.
After escorting Air Force One into Fairbairn, our F-A/18 Hornets
patrolled the skies in pairs over Canberra for 24 hours.
Six fully armed Hornets operated out of HMAS Albatross in Nowra
and followed procedures similar to those used during the Commonwealth
Heads of Government Meeting last year, where unidentified intruding
aircraft could be shot down under rules of engagement authorised
by the Australian Government.
On the ground at Fairbairn, 16 Air Force security police and dog
handlers joined US Air Force and Australian Federal Police offi
cers in protecting the presidential party and their aircraft fleet.
Accompanying the Air Force One 747 jet – known as the “Flying
Whitehouse” – was a 747 carrying US Air Force, Secret Service
and support staff.
Only 15 minutes after landing, President Bush left Fairbairn in
a motorcade of more than 30 vehicles.
Security operations began two weeks before his arrival, with US
heavy-lift aircraft, including the Globemaster and the Galaxy,
making several visits to Fairbairn to unload equipment, including
Presidential cars, fuel tankers and a support helicopter.
Security Police Offi cer Flight Sergeant Phil Gardham said the
small team of SECPOL personnel at Fairbairn worked around the
clock during the highprofile security operation, earning praise
from the American Embassy and the US Secret Service for their
“I’ve been involved in two Royal visits, including that of the
Queen, but this is something I will never forget,” FSGT Gardham
“It was a great team effort and a real highlight of my career.”
During President Bush’s short stay in the national capital, he
visited the Australian War Memorial where he met more than 30
ADF personnel who had deployed to the Middle East for Operations
Bastille and Falconer.
Among them was Squadron Leader Linda Corbould, a pilot from No.
36 Squadron who was the mission commander on board the first Australian
C-130 flight into Baghdad.
SQNLDR Corbould said it was a highlight to meet the US leader,
who she described as amiable and friendly with a strong presence.
“I felt very privileged in being selected to meet him,” she said.
“He seemed genuinely pleased to be there and thanked me for my
efforts and support in the Middle East. He spoke highly of the
expertise that the Australian forces brought to the conflict and
was very appreciative of our contribution.”
Corporal Steven Waddle, a Clerk Supply from No. 386 Expeditionary
Combat Support Squadron, described the President as a remarkable
man but said it was the electric atmosphere of the event that
made it unforgettable.
“Where else can you go in your career where you have the entire
upper echelon in the same room all there for the same goal. It
was an awe-inspiring experience,” he said.
Other Air Force personnel to meet President Bush were Group Captain
Geoff Brown, Squadron Leader Philip Eldridge, Squadron Leader
Daryl Pudney, Flight Lieutenant Michael Phillips, Flight Lieutenant
Melissa Livingstone, Flight Lieutenant Ashley Joslin, Flight Lieutenant
Greg Jervis, Warrant Officer Anthony McDermott, Sergeant Phillip
Johnston and Leading Aircraftman Stuart Williams.