Geraldton’s 711 Squadron gets ‘keys to the City’

A march with a difference will be part of this year’s Sunshine Festival when the officers, airmen and cadets of 711 (City of Greater Geraldton) Squadron, Australian Air Force Cadets, get the Freedom of Entry to the City of Greater Geraldton on October 5.

This gives them ‘the right, privilege, honour and distinction of marching through the streets of the City of Greater Geraldton on ceremonial occasions in full display to all others’.

City CEO, Ken Diehm, will read the scroll proclaiming the freedom and City Mayor, Ian Carpenter, will present the scroll to the Parade Commander, Flight Lieutenant (AAFC) David Power, and Parade Warrant Officer, Corporal (AAFC) Hayden Spencer, in a ceremony at the Army Reserve Hall on Lester Ave at noon on Saturday October 5 conferring the 711 Squadron Freedom of Entry to the City.

The 711 Squadron will then join the Sunshine Festival parade to Maitland Park for the march past.

It is anticipated there will be RAAF aircraft from Number 2 Flying Training School RAAF Pearce, performing flyovers during the initial parade at 711 Squadron and the Sunshine Festival parade to honour the squadron’s newly granted freedom.

Granting the Freedom of Entry to a City is an old custom with its origins in European early history, where walled cities and trained soldiers protected citizens from marauding armies. It was unusual for outside soldiers to be granted the privilege so on occasions when it was, it was accompanied by much ceremony.

Today granting ‘freedom of the city’ is an indication of the pride the local municipality has in the recipient.

“This award is restricted to Australian military and civilian units that have, through their command, a significant attachment to the City of Greater Geraldton,” Mr Carpenter said.

“It is conferred in recognition of their achievement while on active service or overseas duty or as a mark of respect and gratitude for their efforts in the defence of Australia.”

Mr Carpenter said it is also a significant occasion as this year the 711 Squadron is celebrating 20 years of operations in Geraldton.

“The local 711 Squadron is an active organisation in the local community and has had involvement in many community events including the Valley View Vintage Drive and Fly-in, Australia Day and ANZAC Day parades,” he said.

Anyone aged between 13 and 18 years of age interested in 711 Squadron AAFC is encouraged to drop into the Army Reserve Depot on Lester Ave, Geraldton, any Monday night during school term from 6pm to 9.30pm to find out more information.

 

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Jason Smith

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