Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) operations are dominated by ex-ADF helicopter pilots thanks to the similarities in not only the aircraft styles and the missions, but also the personal traits that suit the demands of both types of flying.
It is inevitable, then, that Anzac Day has special meaning for the pilots behind HEMS operations in Australia, as they remember their time in service and the people they served with.
Babcock Australasia's Head of Commercial Aviation Matthew Glynn flew with the Australian Army on Black Hawks in East Timor in 1999 as part of the INTERFET mission, and later instructed on Tiger ARHs. He is well aware of the connections between his past and present.
"Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) has its roots in the military," Glynn says. "Working in Aviation & Critical Services at Babcock means I help to ensure ongoing access to emergency medical services for people around Australia, whether they live in rural or urban communities.
"HEMS is a modern version of the stretcher-bearers who transported the wounded off the battlefield in the Great War through World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The readiness and rapid response of Babcock’s HEMS operations are standards that have originated from military aeromedical service."
Glynn is one of many ex-ADF HEMS pilots that naturally turn their thoughts back to their service days around 25 April every year.
"Throughout my life, my connection to Anzac Day has deepened from my own military career, my current civilian role at Babcock, and learning the stories and sacrifices of service personnel, both past and present," he says.
"During my time as a Flying Instructor, I had the opportunity to visit the Western Front battlefields and cemeteries whilst living in France. Here, the profound sacrifices made by many Australians during World War I is stark. The Australian National Memorial stands within Villers-Bretonneux (VB) Military Cemetery – a location that holds monuments engraved with the names of the missing.
"At VB and Ypres, the monuments commemorate thousands of men and boys who never returned home from the First World War. I have travelled back to France since this time to visit the memorials for a Dawn Service at VB, tacked onto a trip to accept a helicopter with Babcock.
"'Lest we forget' – this simple phrase is both a requiem and a warning. Anzac Day is a time to remember all those who gave their life serving as well as those who made their way home and experienced ongoing pain. It is a time to pay respect to the families of those who lost their loved ones to war and had no grave to attend.
"It is important to acknowledge the experiences and sacrifices of past service personnel and recognise what they faced, should we need to face it again."
Glynn is rightly proud of his ADF time, and like so many other ex-ADF pilots, never forgets the people who he served shoulder-to-shoulder with.
"I am deeply proud to have served in the Australian Army, to contribute to something greater than myself, and play a role in protecting our country," he says. "The people I served alongside are some of the best people I have ever met.
"It is an honour to have worked with them and to continue to call them my mates today, 18 years after my military discharge."
Although they are no longer dressed in camoflage green or blue, Australia's ex-ADF HEMS pilots continue to serve their country in an aviation sector that has heritage deep-rooted in the development of military aeromedical services.
And every Anzac Day is a reminder to them of how they got their start in aviation.