CAMARADERIE: Di Jackson spent 26 years in the Royal Australian Air Force. She is pictured with a photo of her great great uncle William McIntyre who died on the Western Front in World War I.
CAMARADERIE: Di Jackson spent 26 years in the Royal Australian Air Force. She is pictured with a photo of her great great uncle William McIntyre who died on the Western Front in World War I. Monique Preston

Special remembrance for Di

ANZAC Day has special significance for Di Jackson who spent 26 years in the Royal Australian Air Force.

Mrs Jackson will be attending the dawn service in Cannonvale and the march in Airlie Beach today to pay her respects to all those who have served their country.

"I'll be thinking about the people who served, including those who failed to return and those who did return," she said.

"The world is a better place because of people who did these sorts of things."

Now a Mandalay resident, Mrs Jackson joined the Air Force on September 26, 1990, and spent her time working as a logistics officer - albeit in different areas over the years.

Her enlistment date has a special meaning for Mrs Jackson, whose great great uncle William McIntyre died in World War I on the Western Front on the same date 73 years earlier - September 26, 1917.

Mrs Jackson had many roles during her time in the Air Force - all in logistics.

They varied from her first position as a supply clerk in Darwin, where one of the highlights of her job was paying the invoices for fuel of up to $1 million each month, right through to her final position as a squadron leader.

Among other roles over the years, Mrs Jackson worked as an air movements clerk, preparing weight and balance documentation for planes to ensure they could fly safely.

"(It was) a very important role as the calculation of weight - passengers and cargo - against fuel burn for the flight time is critical for the aircraft to fly safely to destinations."

A promotion and posting to 1SQN, the operating squadron of the F-111 aircraft at Amberley in Brisbane, involved deployment planning for exercises in exercises in Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Nevada.

In 2001 Mrs Jackson decided to take on a leadership role, completing officer training in Melbourne.

Returning to Darwin - one of the places Mrs Jackson loved most during her time in the Air Force - Mrs Jackson's roles included managing Army, Navy, Air Force and civilian workforces, enabling them to provide logistics support to the region, as well as working in a unit which provided communication support between ground forces and aircraft.

Mrs Jackson said a stand-out during her time there was being involved in deploying the unit to Singapore for an exercise with armed forces from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

"On our arrival into Singapore we had to set up our comms system in the exercise headquarters."

"Upon arrival there the next day we noticed that a critical piece of equipment had been removed overnight by other forces with the aim to make our comms so much more difficult to achieve.

"Much to their disgust of the Singaporeans, we were able to obtain that piece of kit from a local telecommunication stockist and continue to operate unhindered."

Other roles during the Darwin stint included being a catering officer, officer in command of the base command post and officer in command of the air movements section.

Between 2009 and 2012 Mrs Jackson was employed as a hazardous chemicals project manager, before finishing her career as a squadron leader.

Over the years, some of the bigger assignments Mrs Jackson was involved in was the East Timor conflict in the 1990s, where she was involved in loading aircraft with troops, weapons and ammunition.

"We were doing a lot of air movements."

"With these aircraft landing in a 'hot zone' where fighting was taking place, the planes had to be specially loaded to allow troops to get off safely as soon as they landed."

Mrs Jackson was also involved with helping in the aftermath of both Bali bombings in the 2000s.

"That was taxing because the injured were coming back. We had to try and move people with burns injuries."

"I was in operations managing - with others - timings, personnel and equipment requirements."

Mrs Jackson was medically discharged from the Air Force in 2016 with a hereditary medical condition.

"I wouldn't have left otherwise."

She said she loved her time in the Air Force.

"It was sort of like going to work, but not going to work."

"You were doing something different every day. Being constantly changing, it challenges you.

"(The best thing was) being able to achieve better than you thought you could for the benefit of the organisation."

Asked if she would do it again, Mrs Jackson said "in a heartbeat".

"So many amazing things done, places visited, and lifelong friends made."

"Serving your country is another thing that's good - protecting the future landscape for future generations to come."


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