Whilst at Burke Mead Lawyers we focus on Personal Injury and Family Law, it is also important to remember those that have fought so hard for our beautiful country and to live the lives we often take for granted.
On behalf of everyone at Burke Mead Lawyers, we would like to extend our gratitude for those who left but never returned, and those who returned but were never the same, to the families who have lost and those who continue to fight for our country and freedom.
A story from one of our own staff, Carissa Bidder and her Grandmother’s late husband, Noel Shipp.
Born in Brisbane, Noel joined the RAN on 10 January 1963 and following his recruitment training was posted to GMAS Watson where he was to qualify as an underwater control rating. Several shore postings followed that saw him serve variously at GMAS Harman and HMAS Penguin.
Sea postings soon followed in GMA Ships Yarra, Gascoyne and Anzac during which time he was promoted Able Seaman. In 1967 Noel Volunteered to become an aircrewman and was promoted Provisional Acting Leading Aircrewman on 12 July that same year and was confirmed in the rank on 12 July 1968. As a member of the Aircrew Category, Noel served chiefly at HMAS Albatross, Naval Air Station Nowra, the home of the RAN Fleet Air Arm.
In 1968, Noel was posted as a member of the 2nd Contingent to the RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam (RANHFV). The RANHFV was integrated with the US Army 135th Assault Helicopter Company, flying Iroquois helicopters in utility gunship configurations. He soon found himself flying as a helicopter door-gunner with the “Taipans”, the 135th’s gunship platoon. In this role, he flew numerous missions providing suppression fire for troop-lift helicopters and participated in frequent ground assaults on enemy positions and troop concentrations.
By November 1968, Noel had flown many missions as a door-gunner. In January 1969 he was presented with a US Air Medal with ‘V’ for Valor clasp, by Lieutenant Colonel Wallace Baker, US Army, 222 Combat Aviation Battalion at Camp Bear Cat, South Vietnam.
On 31 May 1969, aircraft of the 135th were extracting elements of the 7th Infantry Division (Army Republic of Vietnam) from a pick-up zone in Dinh Tuong Province when they came under intense fire from automatic weapons. Three aircraft were damaged and one pilot was injured, necessitating his immediate medical evacuation.
The aircraft that Noel was flying immediately stepped in and proceeded to the pick-up zone and began making rocket attack runs on the enemy position. With complete disregard for his own safety, Noel hung outside the aircraft exposing himself to rocket back blast and intense enemy fire to bring more effective fire to bear on the target. The pilot of the aircraft was hit by the enemy and the gunship rapidly lost altitude before crashing and exploding in the jungle below. All four crew members perished.
It has been said that up until the moment of impact, Noel was seen delivering devastating fire into the enemy positions, and that he displayed the virtues that are corner-stones of the Navy today – Honour, Honestly, Integrity, Loyalty and most of all, Courage.
On 18 September 2012, the Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Ray Griggs announced that one of the RAN’s four recruit divisions at HMAS Cerberus would be named in honour of Noel Shipp, who was survived by his wife, Gloria, and son, Darren, who was just 18 months old when he lost his father.
“I so greatly admire my Grandmother’s strength to go through such a big loss at such an early age, and to this day, 51 years later, continue to celebrate Noel’s hard work and achievements when possible, including attending graduation ceremonies at HMAS Cerberus in Victoria. They had so much love for each other, that still shows in the way she continues to keep his name alive!”