'Welcome home': RAAF families reunite on emotional day
IT WASN'T just another Super Hornet landing at RAAF Base Amberley yesterday.
It was a landing that reunited parents, children, siblings and partners after more than three years of fighting ISIL and continuous strikes in the Middle East.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was at the base to welcome home the strike element of the air task group.
"Boy, your smiles were getting bigger and bigger as the Super Hornets approached," the Prime Minister said.
"What a great day.
"Welcome home, job well done. Thank you so much.
"The work that has been done by Australian men and women in securing Iraq has been remarkable.
"These terrorists are a global threat as we know.
"Thank you for your service. Australia is proud of you."
Defence Minister Marise Payne told the returning crews not to underestimate the impact they had had on the Middle East.
"But what does it mean in terms of the air crews, the maintenance people, the logistics personnel, the people who were in the K-C30, the people who were in the Wedgetails, the people who were in the C17s?" she said.
"Every single one of you makes a difference to what the International Coalition set out to achieve in the Middle East.
"I'm immensely grateful for the work that you and your predecessors have done over the past three and a half years.
"It's a monumental contribution."
The task was not lost on Chief of Defence Air Chief Marshal Leo Davies, AO, CSC who was in the Middle East only days ago.
"It's been a hard task for them, been away from home for a long period," he said.
"It was a long campaign by any standards, by modern standards but you helped the Iraqi forces, the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi people... I've seen the difference over there."
The RAAF crews will now have a few weeks off before returning to work a little closer to home.
"They'll get back into their training cycles and ensure their preparedness for any of the contingencies that we prepare for," Air Chief Marshal Davies said.