Mitcham AFA Family History Book Launch

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Mitcham AFA Branch President, Robert Black; Mitcham Mayor Glenn Spear; Federal Member for Boothby, Nicolle Flint and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Hon. Martin Hamilton-Smith MP at the book launch of ‘Mitcham AFA Family’.

On Friday 18 November a new book telling the story of the Mitcham Branch of the Royal Australian Air Force Association was launched at Mitcham Community Court, Belair Road, Hawthorn. Guests at the launch included current members of the Mitcham AFA, their families and friends, as well as members of the Mitcham Historical Society and broader Mitcham community.

Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, the Hon Martin Hamilton-Smith, formally launched the publication having had a long association with the club and the community.

“The history of the Mitcham AFA goes back 70 long years, and it is testament to the hard work and unwavering spirit of its members that it has not only lasted so long, but also managed to flourish as an important community hub. At one point, the Mitcham AFA was the largest RAAF branch in Australia. Being the largest branch in Australia doesn’t happen by chance or luck, it happens because there are people willing to create something special” he said.

Air Vice-Marshal (Retd) Brent Espeland AM, National President of the AFC and RAAFA and Chair of the Veterans’ Advisory Council, wrote the foreword for the book. In it he highlights the theme of ‘family’ which resonates strongly throughout; a theme which has been at the heart of the Mitcham Branch of the Air Force Association from its establishment in 1947, post WWII.

“We learn of the various membership (the life blood of the family) drives; the interesting story of the clubrooms (the family home and amenity) and the role of the Shell Company and the Mitcham Council; the nature of the meetings (family gatherings) and guest lecturers (family friends); the hospital visiting and other welfare programs (family well-being); and, most importantly, the sporting and social activities (family cohesion and inclusiveness).”

The book was compiled by Bernie O’Neil and Kevin Gogler, both authors of historical publications, and both sons of former branch members. Three years in the making, it draws on testimonies from past members and on the Association’s records. It is dedicated ‘to those who served their nation in the air forces of Australia and its allies, and to those who founded the RAAFA branch.’ The Mitcham AFA Family History covers the period from 1947, post WWII, to the current day.

Copies of the book can be obtained by contacting Branch President Robert Black via email to robertbarhamblack@yahoo.com.au, or by phoning 8379 2294.

Read the full speech delivered by Hon. Martin Hamilton-Smith here.

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From left, Co-Author Kevin Gogler with Kevin Fisher OAM, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Hon. Martin Hamilton-Smith MP, and Co-Author Bernard O’Neil, at the book launch of ‘Mitcham AFA Family’, Mitcham RAAF