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By: WO2 Linda Moore and photos by 5ASU

The Warrant Officer Achiever of the Year Awards Evening took place on 14 May 2009 at 68 Air School.  The Warrant Officer of the SA Air Force (SCWO), Daniel Tshabalala, hosted this prestigious event.

The Guest of Honour was the Chief of the SA Air Force, Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano.  Other high-ranking dignitaries were also in attendance.

The aim of the Warrant Officer Achiever of the Year Awards is to recognise Warrant Officers who distinguish themselves through outstanding achievements and exemplary service to the SA Air Force.

SWO Pierre Oelofse, the Regimental Sergeant Major at 68 Air School, was appointed as chairperson of the organising committee. The aircraft hangar at 68 Air School was selected as the venue and had to be transformed from its unattractive operational state into a setting worthy of hosting this momentous event. For weeks, a team of Warrant Officers and apprentices cleaned, adorned and manoeuvered aircraft in preparation for the occasion.

The result was an “aviation wonderland”. A guard of honour with a flag-lined and lantern-lit driveway welcomed guests. A display of two Impala aircraft flanked the red carpeted entrance. Illuminated Harvards, Impalas and Allouettes set against a background of draped parachutes created an ambience of aviation grandeur.

The Venue.

SWO Eugene van der Merwe from 17 Squadron, AFB Waterkloof, was announced as the top achiever from amongst fourteen nominees. Each nominee received a small replica trophy and a certificate, after which SWO Van der Merwe was awarded with the impressive floating trophy.

The Top Achiever:  SWO Eugene van der Merwe with Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano and SCWO Daniel Tshabalala

SWO Eugene van der Merwe is the Squadron Warrant Officer and Squadron Adjutant at 17 Squadron, AFB Waterkloof. This position entails the maintenance of discipline amongst all squadron personnel. As Mission Support Officer and Leader Flight Engineer he is required to plan and provide mission-ready aircraft (Oryx’s and A109s). He also provides Flight Engineers for all missions in order to maintain the operational effectiveness of 17 Squadron.

SWO Eugene van der Merwe

In his address, the Chief of the SA Air Force, Lt Gen Gagiano, congratulated SWO Van der Merwe on his accomplishment and mentioned the importance of the Warrant Officers. In many musterings they are the only skilled and experienced personnel remaining in the SA Air Force. He congratulated the nominees on their achievement and expressed his gratitude for their hard work and perseverance in an often challenging environment.

Lt Gen Gagiano congratulated 68 Air School and thanked the personnel involved. He expressed his appreciation of the creation of such splendour, which marked a memorable evening.

Address by Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano

Top Achievers for 2009:

SWO M.K. Mofomme
SWO E.G. van der Merwe
WO1 H.J. de Bruin
WO1 J.J. Kwak
WO1 I.T. Mokatsanyane
WO1 T.J.P. Stieler
WO1 R.J.J. van Rensburg
WO2 J.C. du Toit
WO2 I.M. Mahlatsane
WO2 H.J. Malan
WO2 Y.R. Raubenheimer
WO2 P.H. Sharp
WO2 C.C. Snyders
WO2 P.J. van Niewenhuizen


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