A FORMER Goulburn man who was initially rejected as unsuitable for the Air Force has won the most senior award granted outside active service in the Australia Day honours.
Sergeant Andrew Wade, the son of Goulburn RSL sub branch president Gordon Wade, was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross on Saturday.
He was honoured for “outstanding achievement as the senior non-commissioned officer in charge of engine cell at Number 37 Squadron.” “I’m surprised and humbled by the award,” the 43-year-old told the Post on Saturday.
“It’s come from a lot of hard work by others associated with me. I might be the guy at the front but there are a lot of people standing beside me doing just as work.”
The citation read: “Sergeant Wade successfully planned, initiated and managed the engine health management system, engine watch list and propeller balancing system for AE2100 engines in support of the C-130J Hercules fleet, delivering sustainment savings and significant increases in engine reliability and enhancing airlift capability in support of operations.”
It’s a high achievement after just 12 years in the Air Force as an engineer.
At 17, and straight out of St Patrick’s College, Andrew Wade was knocked back in his first application for the Force. He was dubbed unsuitable due to his age.
He pursued aircraft engineering in the private sector, including at Bankstown Airport and successfully reapplied at age 30.
Since then he’s been deployed three times to Iraq – 2005, 2007 and 2008/9 – and several times to Afghanistan, along with other countries, looking after the C- 130J.
Sgt Wade said he missed the camaraderie of overseas tours but not being away from his wife and three children.
That said, he told the Post he’d “go back in a heartbeat because of the fantastic work the services were doing over there.” Based at Richmond for the past 11 years and now living at Windsor, he has no plans to leave the Force. In fact Sgt Wade has just completed a Masters degree, which he hoped would enable him to move into crash investigation in Canberra.
“The Air Force has given me a lot but I’ve also given it a lot and that’s why I’ve been given this award,” he said.
Sgt Wade celebrated with family at Camden on Saturday.
When home in Goulburn he always accompanies his father to Anzac Day services.
Gordon Wade was just as surprised and elated by the award.
“Too right I’m proud of him,” he told the Post.