Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Michael Bone is relatively new to Bingara. After spending seven years in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), he saw parts of the world most people only dream about and made lifelong friends along the way. 

Born on the Gold Coast, the now 32 year old grew up in Mackay and joined the Air Force out of school. He became an avionics technician based in Sydney, mostly working on the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, a four engine military transport aircraft. 

Michael told the New England Times that his role was to fix anything and everything electrical, communication, oxygen, or navigation-based in the massive planes. His lone deployment in the Middle East took him to Dubai. 

“It was pretty nice over there in Dubai to be honest, but we were flying into Afghanistan and Iraq most weeks; we went where the plane flew, just in case it broke down,” he said. 

“I was not on the frontlines or anything, not like some of the guys. We were based in Dubai, a well built, populated, wealthy place,” Michael added. 

However, there were still elements of danger to the posting. Despite not going directly into combat in Afghanistan, Michael says some moments could be very nerve wracking. 

“The only real worry was when we were flying around, it was the only time we came close to combat. If a lone extremist with an RPG or similar was on a hill as the plane was flying into a base, looking to make the news or something, that’s what concerned us,” Michael said.

“Most of the bases in Afghanistan and Iraq are all American run and pretty secure. When you are on base, it’s safe. It’s that approach; when the plane is coming in low and slow to land, that’s when we were a bit worried.” 

Fathers influence sparked interest to enlist  

Reasons for joining the Defence Forces can vary from person to person. Not everyone has the same motivations. According to Michael, his father was a significant influence on his decision to enlist. 

A boilermaker by trade and not “associated with the services” at all, Michael says his father’s positive outlook on the Australian Defence Forces rubbed off on both himself and his brother. 

“My dad led me towards it, as he did my brother, who was in the Navy for about seven years. My brother spoke very highly of it too, and they set him up really well,” Michael said.

“I was leaning toward going into the service anyway, I didn’t really want to go to University, so I ended up in the Air Force straight out of school. It all worked out really well for me.”

Michael’s journey in the RAAF was a tapestry of unique experiences, each one leaving a mark. From traversing new countries to acquiring new skills, his time in the Air Force was a treasure trove of memories. Yet, one aspect of his service stands out as a beacon among all the rest. 

“The friends you make through the training process, some of them are for life, we still keep in touch now,” he said. 

“Aside from the deployment, we did multiple trips around the world to the United States, Hawaii, all sorts. It gives you perspective on everything, seeing other countries and other cultures.” 

Quiet life in Bingara away from the hustle and bustle

Leaving the RAAF was not an option Michael took lightly. It was a choice born out of a change in circumstances and a longing for a quieter life away from the bustling streets of Sydney. Settling in Bingara and finding a job at the local council was the first step in his new journey. 

“My wife and I had enough of the Sydney lifestyle and we couldn’t afford a house there, so we ended up moving to Bingara where her parents live, because we loved the area so much,” he said. 

“We were stuck in Sydney and not enjoying the hustle and bustle of the lifestyle. We wanted a bit more land for our child and dogs; I knew the only way to pursue that was by leaving the Air Force. ” 

ANZAC Day is just around the corner on April 25, with services and ceremonies set to take place all around Australia. Just like many veterans, Michael says the day has taken on a whole new meaning for him since being in the RAAF. 

“Before joining the services, you always see it as a public holiday and don’t really think much about the meaning behind it all,” he said. 

“It obviously means a lot more now, serving has given me a bit more of an understanding around what the ANZACs went through all those years ago and the comradery they shared.”

Top Image: Former RAAF avionics technician Michael Bone with his family (supplied)

See what events are happening for ANZAC Day in the region here.

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