Thursday, June 23, 2011

RMAF Labuan - The Tour Of Duty From 1970 -1973.

Map of Labuan
(The RMAF Base is within the Labuan Airport)

The happy moment came somewhere in the end of 1970, when news broke up in the morning at my workplace the Supply Squadron RMAF Base Butterworth, that I was transfered to East Malaysia. This time RMAF Labuan, Sabah. My OC Supply(Officer Commanding), Flight Lieutenant Aziz Derwish and my NCO incharged WO1 Sharma and Sgt.Vikinarajah bid me farewell while signing my base clearance document. They said, "Labuan! nice place and you better save money over there". I was told that Labuan island situated in the East Malaysian state of Sabah and had a base strength of about 600 RMAF personnels there. I was a young carrying the rank of an AC or Aircraftman at that time and just beginning to think of enjoying an additional income from the Sabah/Sarawak Overseas Allowances. Thus was going to be my first time travelling by air.

RMAF Handley Page Dart Herald
(Photo from RMAF Museum)

I departed for Labuan via Kuching from the RMAF Base Old Airport Road, Kuala Lumpur in a 'Dart Herald', an RMAF aircraft of the No.4 Squadron powered by two Rolls Royce turboprop engines. It was a nice journey with a minor turbulances. On arrival at RMAF Kuching, the aircraft traveled was found unserviceable and I have to night stop. It was a procedure the aircraft luggage compartment was not to be unloaded and therefore I was  left without any night stop kit but luckily my squadmate, AC Rosli arrived to my rescue using with his so called uncomfortably tight attires and showed me around the base and the Kuching town by the night. I finally arrived in Labuan two days behind schedule on the same aircraft, after being made serviceable and the aircraft's pilot as I could remember was Flying Officer Sharkawi and I learnt that he was from Kuching, Sarawak.

At the RMAF Labuan, there are two flying squadrons in existence, the No 5 Sqn.(AlouetteIII), and The No 8 Sqn.(DHC4-Caribou). I stayed at Airmen's Barrack Block No.2 an old dark wooden barrack and it was closed to the Airmen's Mess. I could smell the foods being cooked from a short distant and the food served here at the Airmen's Mess were oftenly canned foods such as sardines, chickens, beef, cuttlefish, as for the fresh ration supply was a little slow moving and this was due to the logistic communication and the climatic factors of Labuan. Another example like the today's newspaper read was from yesterday's date and eventually got used to it and as for the food served I just love the canned food stuffs.

I was attached at the various quarters such as technical stores, electronic stores,clothing stores, and petroleum, oil and lubricant (POL) stores of the Supply Squadron, and I really enjoy my work and could still remembered my OC Supply Squadron and his name was Flight Lieutenant Haidir, Pilot Officer Mustapha (Ex AQM), and the staff like Flight Sergeant Kadir, Flt.Sgt.Christopher Columbus, Flt.Sgt Sen Gupta, Sgt.Sinniah, Cpl.Bakar, Cpl.Manaf, Cpl.Lai, Cpl.Affendi(The musician), Cpl.BJ.Chong,Cpl.Ngeau, Cpl.Farouk, Cpl.Ariffin(Alonto), Cpl Razali Ujang, Cpl.Jesudas, Cpl.Francis Xavier and many more to mention.

While at the administration side was Base Commander, Wing.Cmdr.Chua Ban Hin, Base Warrant Officer WO1 Borhan and later replaced by WO1 Rahman, the othe staffs were Cpl Wahid, Cpl Pawaid, Cpl Mahmud,Cpl Hassan and etc.The names mentioned were my superiors and instructors and I owned them a lot for guiding me through my career in the airforce especially WO1 Maheswaran(Career Examiner).

The Technical and the Flying Wing were, Sqn.Leader Nawi, Sqn.Leader Quah, Capt Ahmad Azizah, Lt.Razak, Flying Off. Kong, Plt.Off. Din Yati, Plt.Off Abullah, Plt.Off Ranjit Singh, Flying Off. Syed Wahab and others. The Flying, Technical, and Admin Wing were all in close associated to the Supply Squadron in term of their needy requirement in the supply of equipments, such as aircraft parts, foods and clothings, providing air movements facilities, fuel,oil and gas and etc.

Labuan was a free port for some times since then, things are cheaper especially electrical and electronic goods, motor vehicles, cameras, watches, sunglasses, luggages, clothings and etc. Well! foods and house rentals are a little expensive compared to Peninsula Malaysia(West Malaysia). It was in Labuan I have a passion for cameras and aviator sunglasses. My first camera was 'Canon QL' followed by an SLR the 'Canon FT' and then 'Minolta SRT Super'. I met Cpl Salim(RMAF Motor Transport), now a professional photographer, and Cpl Teoh(RMAF Instrument Section) they taught me basic photography and the photo darkroom lab facilities. Through my enthusiastic in photography, I became  an official photographer for an a dramatic presentation held at the Labuan Civic Center in 1972. As for the aviator sunglasses the 'Ray Ban' are my favorites just between RM45.00 - RM80.00 a piece here in Labuan 1970. I have several pairs but sold them all to friends whenever on leave in West Malaysia. Today the aviator class 'Ray Ban' cost around RM800++ what a terrific price jump in as much for 'Rolex Submariner' watches sold for only RM500.00 a piece in 1970, well! now at RM16,000 ++.

My Airmen's Living Quarters Block No.2 RMAF Labuan(Front) 1970-1973.
(Now totally abandoned).

Official photographer(Self) for
Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat Drama held here at the
Labuan Civic Center 1972.

My Black And White Darkroom Photo Enlarger.
(I only worked at late night when all lights turned off).

Self at the Airmen's Living Barrack Block No.2 (Rear End) 1972.
(At 7:00 am in the morning is already hot)

The Airmen's Club and Canteen RMAF Labuan 1972.
(Served foods and drinks, snookers, tv room, reading and guest room and yesterday's newspapers).

My favorite Labuan Ice Vendor 1972.
(It was nice to have sweet ice drinks here especially on a hot sunny day ).

Labuan Liberty Wharf, the Marine and Custom Offices on the right 1972.
(Those who export vehicles homeward bound would have to proceed through this point).

Ship at Liberty Wharf Labuan 1972.
( I used to stroll along this area during the weekend for a fresh sea breeze ).

My visit to Labuan War Memorial Ground 1972.

RMAF Labuan Electronic Stores 1972.
Photo of self.

RMAF Labuan Hosting Public Expo 1972.
Photo from left to right: Cpl Jesudas,and J/T Ismail(self).

I was promoted to the rank of Corporal before being posted to RMAF Supply Depot, Kuala Lumpur in 1973 and my tour of duty in RMAF Labuan lasted for three years leaving behind a long sweet memories of such as weekend at the Surrender Point Beach, fishing, swimming and snorkeling, shopping along the quiet cowboy looking towns, beautiful handcrafts, nice and friendly local residents, the joy of following the RMAF 'Caribou' route trainer's aircraft to Kota Kinabalu and etc, not forgetting the local crowded bus ride to town, free RMAF bus ride, the free cinemas, the famous Membidai food stalls and lastly wondering when there be an another time coming back to Labuan.

Self at the Surrender Point Beach, Labuan 1973

The Surrender Point Beach, Labuan 1973.

In that year 1973, I was transfered and reported for duty at RMAF Supply Depot, Old Airport Road, Kuala Lumpur. My OC Supply Depot was Wing.Cmdr.Lee Teng Kooi (A Tae-kwan-do practitioner). I was assigned to the 'Air Trans Dept' (Air Transportation Department). Transportation's officer in charged was Flt.Lt Baharuddin followed by Pilot Officer Hussein, Flt.Sgt. Ibrahim, Sgt Fajar, Sgt.Darus, Sgt.Taharuddin, Cpl.Vasudevan, Cpl.Jais, Cpl.Muniandi, and the etc. At this point I learnt volumes about international import and export an much important experienced gained and combined with an easy and hard time altogether until 1977. Several of my intake squadmates were already been commissioned as officers and I think I was quite left behind. In the airforce you may be the best but when the luck was not on your side, its just too bad.

Well! in 1977, I left Supply Depot for HFTS(Helicopter Flying Training School) just a stone throw away to the Base Supply Squadron. For another new post, that was the AQM training(Air Quarter Master Training) where finally lured me into a new family of the RMAF's 'Helicopter Gunship Crews'.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Malaysian National Heroic Monument

Our recruits of 1st intake 1970 visited the Malaysian National Heroic Monument at Kuala Lumpur,
led by our instructors: F/Sgt Mukti, Sgt Ali, Cpl Alam Shah, Cpl Ahmad, Cpl Pawid and Cpl Yunus Malek.

Malaysian National Heroic Monument


Here at this monument in the morning of 1970, we all gracefully stood and face the monument with a little thought of  how crucial our forefathers had fought for Malaysia's independence and it was here, we had promised to work hard in defending our sovereignty, the King, religion and the country. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

You Are Always In My Mind

Alouette III

My Alouette III 

  You are my pet
Always in my mind
My pride
My inspiration
My saviour
My survival
My companion for peace and freedom 
Your sacrifices never fade
You I adore and my salute.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Flying Memoir The Alouette III - FM1316.

(Website Photo From RMAF Museum, Kuala Lumpur).

My aircrew flying log book shown with the Alouette III-FM1316 as logged. 

     Date                I Flown With               Nature of Duty                  Duration
Butterworth Memoir.
1.  July 12,1978 - Kpt(U) Raja Mohd.   C34-Underlung and winching.      1:20
2.  Feb 03,1979 - Kpt(U) Raja Mohd     C492A-Gubir-BW(Gunship).       0:35
3.  Feb 14,1979 - Kpt(U) James Chong  C37A-Air Check.                        0:20 
4.  Apr 10,1979 - Kpt(U) James Chong  C37A-A/C Compass Swing.       0:30 
5.  Apr 30,1979 - Lt.M(U) Karim            C164A2-BW-Sintok-BW              1:20    
6.  May 01,1979- Lt.M(U) Karim            C164A2-BW-Sintok-LP-BW         1:45
Kuching,Sarawak Memoir.
7.  Dec 10, 1982- Lt(U) Razak               BAD91A-A/C Compass Swing.   0:30
8.  Dec 20, 1982- Lt(U) Fong                 BAD90A-Monthly Cont.Training.  1:30
9.  Jan 11, 1983 - Lt(U) Razak                BAD91A-KUC-SIBU-KUC.          3:05
10.Jan 12, 1983 - Kpt(U) Hashim           BAD61A-Air Check.                     0:30
11.Jan 13, 1983 - Lt(U) Razak               BAD91A-MCT.                             1:00
12.Jan 19, 1983 - Lt(U) Fong                 BAD90A-Night Flying.                   0:40
13.Jan 22, 1983 - Lt(U) Razak               BAD924A-KUC-SIBU-S'GANG-   2:10
14.Jan 30, 1983 - Kpt(U) Hashim          BAD61A- Air Check.                     0:30

                                                                               Day Flying Hours:       14:35
                                                                             Night Flying Hours:         0:40
                                                                             Total Flying Hours:    15:15
End of Log.

An Alouette III airframe number FM1316 was finally laid to rest at the RMAF Museum, Old Airport Road, Kuala Lumpur after a four decades of good services both in east and west Malaysia. It was a multi role helicopter such as gunship that closely associated among the air gunners, thus leaving behind all the sweet flying memoirs to everyone who had flown it. My tribute to her is my salute!