A Military Police sailor scattered his father’s ashes from a Taipan in tribute to his dad’s love of flying.
Petty Officer Jean Metcalf was unable to attend the funeral due to COVID restrictions but flew over the Strait of Malacca to make the poignant gesture.
The MRH-90 took off from HMAS Adelaide while it was in transit to Malaysia during Indo-Pacific Endeavour (IPE) 2022.
Naval police coxswain Petty Officer Jean Metcalf said scattering the ashes was significant because his Army veteran father spent part of his childhood on Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth, and later became a civilian helicopter pilot.
“When I wasn’t able to attend Dad’s funeral, I asked that some of his ashes be reserved, so I could say goodbye in a way that was meaningful to both of us,” PO Metcalf said.
“Dad was a helicopter pilot. He helped me get my pilot’s license and gave me the love of flying.
“I came up with the idea of spreading Dad’s ashes from the air, then realised I’d be in Adelaide when she transited past Butterworth for IPE22.
“Since Dad was always supportive of my Navy service and had great memories growing up in Malaysia, I thought maybe this could be my way to honour him.
“When the aircrew found out Dad’s flying history and connection to Malaysia, they wanted to help make a flight happen, and Malaysian authorities were equally obliging.
“I think it shows that on deployment, we’re not ship’s company and embarked forces. We’re a joint force – like a family.
“I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to honour Dad and like to think he’d be happy to be back in Malaysia.”
IPE, one of Australia’s key regional engagement activities, returned to South-East Asia and the north-east Indian Ocean from September to November.
This year, IPE 2022 saw engagements in 14 countries, which included the Maldives, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia.
IPE began in 2017 as an annual activity coordinated by the ADF to deliver on the promise of the 2016 Defence white paper to strengthen Australia’s engagement and partnerships with regional security forces.
The official launch and departure of the IPE22 Maritime Task Group aboard HMA Ships Adelaide and Anzac took place in October from Fort Hill Wharf in Darwin.
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