Dungog schoolgirl Georgie U'Brien takes part in RAAF 100 years commemorations

Honour: Georgie U'Brien blows the whistle for the flag raising ceremony in Blamey Square. Picture: SGT Ovilver Carter, Department of Defence
Honour: Georgie U'Brien blows the whistle for the flag raising ceremony in Blamey Square. Picture: SGT Ovilver Carter, Department of Defence

An 11-year-old Dungog girl played an important part in the commemoration of 100 years of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) held in Canberra recently.

Georgina U'Brien said it was "such an honour" to be involved in the flag raising ceremony in Blamey Square Canberra as part of the centenary celebrations on March 31.

Georgie, as she is known, was invited to participate in the celebrations by the Warrant Officer of the Air Force Fiona Grasby OAM. The pair formed a friendship several years ago after a chance meeting.

The bubbly St Josephs' Primary School student announced to her parents Sarah and Matt a few years ago that she wanted to fly to the moon. Seeing the biographical movie First Man about Neil Armstrong didn't deter her - it only further ignited that fire.

She gave her parents her vision of a clear career path: like Armstrong, she would become a fighter pilot and then progress to become an astronaut.

I'm going to become a pilot. That's a must do," said Georgie.

"I'd also like to study Greek mythology," she said adding she would probably do that after she become a pilot.

While her parents were waiting for their coffee order at the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney in 2018 she saw a group of RAAF officers and asked if she could talk to them.

"She's walked up and introduced herself and asked them if any of them were pilots," said Georgie's mother Sarah.

"Fiona Grasby was one of them and at the time she was working for Air Vice Marshal Steve "Zed" Roberton.

(Senior RAAF commander AVM Roberton DSC AM was a fighter pilot deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and the military intervention against Isil.)

"He and Georgie chatted and he gave us his business card and said he would be happy to give Georgie a tour of the RAAF base at Williamtown."

After taking up the offer, Georgie wrote a thank you letter to the Air Vice Marshall and added in a PS - asking if they could be penpals.

"Low and behold all these years later Zed and Georgie are still penpals," said Mrs U'Brien adding the two families had also become friends.

Georgie said they correspond around every month.

"I ask him questions tell him what what is going on in the world of Georgie," she said adding the next letter would include news about her grandmother's visit and that she will soon get braces.

Georgie and her family have also kept in contact and maintained a friendship with Fiona Grasby.

"She's just an incredible woman," said Mrs U'Brien.

"As well as being the first female Warrant Office of the Airforce, she's just one of those powerhouses which you're so grateful as a mother raising girls, that they get to meet this sort of calibre of woman."

Georgie's enthusiasm for the RAAF, flying and dreaming big earned her an invitation as an official guest of Air Vice Marshal Meredith at the 100 year celebrations in Canberra.

"They decided her enthusiasm really encompassed the theme for the 1200th anniversary of the RAAF which was Then, Now, Always."

Georgie assisted WOFF-AF Grasby at the ceremony by blowing the whistle to signal the start of the flag raising ceremony of the six flags that are traditionally flown within the Russell Offices compound - the Australian National Flag, the Aboriginal Flag, the Torres Strait Islands Flag, the ADF Ensign, the Navy ensign and the Air Force ensign.

The flags were raised by six airman symbolising the six ranks worn by the airman workforce and their important contribution to Air Force.

The Blamey Square flag raising was one of the special events in Canberra and provided an opportunity for defence members employed within the Russell precinct to participate in the Air Force's commemoration.

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