Friday, October 20, 2017


I have fond memories of Swede Jensen. We roomed together for the two and a half years we spent at Wagga, first in 2 Flight Initial Training Squadron (ITS) and then for two years as members of 21 A Engine Fitter Flight. We were the only ones from 2 Flt that became sumpys.

Our first weekend at Wagga was spent in the mess scrubbing pots and pans. That was the lot of first year apprentices - rostered for mess duty on the weekends. Throughout the week this was cared for by Thicks - a term of endearment for adult trainees. I remember remarking to Swede something to the effect ‘Look at us, joined the air force to see the world and here we are doing pots and pans’.

Our ITS accommodation block was next to the railway line that ran through the base, one side of the line being used largely for living quarters and the other work. One day we placed coins on the line and lay in the drain under the track outside our block and waited for the Tumbarumba Express to pass and see what it would do to the coins. Then there was the day we were making ashtrays with oxy-acetylene welders. We sat on stools at welding tables that were probably about eighteen inches round. Suddenly there was a yell and Swede was jumping around the workshop with a hole burnt neatly in the leg of his overalls. ‘How’d you do that?’ we asked. Long before Channel nine claimed credit for the idea, Swede gave an instant replay, much to our amusement.

We shared a love of shooting and were able to secure our weapons in our room well enough to survive a number of raids by the Spits (Service Police). I did eventually get caught, but that was because I left my rifle under the seat of a mate’s car where it was found by the Spits snooping around in the car park. It had slipped out from where I had placed it and subsequently I did ten or fourteen days CB. To the best of my knowledge Swede never got caught.

We had one memorable camping trip up near Tumbarumba with Don Banks and Shorty Parsons - the other blokes we roomed with as sumpys. I had a small tent - two or three person - and the idea was to park the car, carry our stuff across the river and set up camp. We planned to use the tent to store our supplies while we slept under the stars. However, the stars refused to shine that night. The four of us ended up trying to sleep in the tent with all our gear. I still remember the rock in my back. Fortunately the next day was fine and we were able to dry our stuff and shoot a few bunnies as well.

After we left Wagga our paths didn’t cross again until I was posted to Headquarters Support Command in 1980. We worked on the same floor for a while as technical spares assessors. I can’t remember when we parted again but I have only met him once since, at that was at a reunion in 2005. Then he was living in North Queensland and as a son of the Atherton Tablelands he must have been living close to home. I hope to see him again one day maybe at at another reunion. Whether I do or not, one thing is certain. Swede Jensen is one bloke I will remember so long as I have the capacity to do so.

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