Warrant Officer Dennis Doggett, OAM, with a fully restored Douglas A-20G Boston.
Warrant Officer Dennis Doggett, OAM, with a fully restored Douglas A-20G Boston. David Nielsen

Retiring into restoration

HE MIGHT be retiring from the Royal Australian Air Force after 45 years of service, but Warrant Officer Dennis Doggett isn’t quite ready to walk away from RAAF Base Amberley just yet.

The Karalee resident has had a long and distinguished career in the RAAF, working maintenance on a number of different aircraft before turning his extensive skills to restoration.

With the RAAF he has been to Amberley, Williamtown, Edinburgh, Wagga, Malaysia and Vietnam, and his work earned him an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 1989.

Today is his last day on the job at the RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre as a reservist, but he plans on coming back often as a volunteer.

While in a temporary site on base, he hopes to keep helping out the heritage centre as they try to find a permanent home.

“We’re desperately trying to set up a RAAF Amberley Heritage Aviation Centre. There’s a lot of good support here at Amberley, and we’ve got support in Canberra through the director of RAAF heritage,” he said.

“The idea is to build a purpose-built museum open to the public.”

The 61-year-old said there were a number of highlights in his career, including a 1972 posting to RAAF Base Williamtown maintaining Search and Rescue Iroquois and recovering aircraft from Papua New Guinea.

“The most enjoyable few years were with Search and Rescue, because you’d service the aircraft and go out on a test flight with a pilot,” he said.

“Almost every day you flew.

“Papua New Guinea, recovering aircraft ... that was also of tremendous interest.

“When you come here with the wrecks and start to salvage what you can and rebuild them, you get a lot of personal satisfaction with what you’ve done.”

The planes he has helped to restore, like the Douglas A-20G Boston (pictured), aren’t able to fly, but that has not stopped him from imagining the aircraft being fully operational. “I’d love to hear one of those run and fly. It’s a beautiful aircraft,” he said.

Friends from the base and his NO 23 Squadron held a barbecue to commemorate Warrant Officer Doggett’s service yesterday.

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