All three SA Air Force (SAAF) bases in the Western Cape were represented at Air Force Base (AFB) Overberg in the first ever medal parade there since its establishment some half a century ago.
In addition to the Air Force’s Test Flight and Development Centre (TFDC), the base is used as take-off and landing point for the nearby Denel Overberg Test Range (OTR).
Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo, SAAF Chief, was parade review officer and saw 30 plus medals and decorations presented on 7 December, Ad Astra’s Captain Tebogo August reports for the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
These included three Bars to the Medaljie Vir Troue Diens 30 Years; and ten Bars to the Medaljie Vir Troue Diens 20 Years.
Personnel from the Langebaanweg, Overberg and Ysterplaat bases, representing the airborne service’s total Western Cape flying strength, were honoured.
Paying tribute to them, Mbambo said: “The men and women being awarded medals today managed the tough part, to choose the difficult option of doing what is right. Their first hard choice was to choose a life of service to their country and its people. A choice which often meant sacrificing own needs as well as those of their loved ones”.
Ad Astra journalist Corporal Tshimolloyabothselo Matsha quoted Mbambo as saying that “Air Force Base Overberg was given a facelift recently and other bases will soon follow suit and has also set and maintained a very high standard in terms of maintenance.
“Although Air Force Base Overberg is not an operational unit, the flight testing which is done at the base supports operational bases and deployments.”
Mbambo reminded parade participants that the September Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition hosted at Air Force Base Waterkloof was the ‘coming back’ of the Department of Defence. “The Africa Aerospace and Defence Exhibition 2022 was an exceptional success as confirmed by attendance, the air show and the display stands during the show. Conferences and seminars such as air and space power symposium were equally successful. This was again further evidence of the dedication and commitment of our people without whom there is no SA Air Force to talk about,” Mbambo said.
In his keynote address, the Chief of the SAAF noted that, “we are living in uncertain times where very big changes can and do happen without warning. Currently the South African National Defence Force is involved in two external operations which directly affect SA Air Force air transport and helicopter capabilities. Due to the erratic and changeable nature of conflict, the possible deployment of fighter aircraft capabilities cannot and should not be disregarded”.