IN CELEBRATION of her 100th birthday, Hazel Capewell (née Gillett) received her Air Force 2021 Centenary commemorative presentation on Monday, March 29.
Hazel celebrated her 100th birthday on February 15.
Three RAAF personnel presented Hazel with four framed medals and a certificate at her Korumburra home.
The presentation was signed by the RAAF Air Chief Marshal Mel Hupfeld AO, DSC, and Warrant Officer of the Air Force Fiona Grasby.
Group Captain Nigel Ward – ADF Officer at RAAF Base East Sale – made the presentation to Hazel.
Air Surveillance Operator Sergeant Jayne Francis, and Wing Commander and RAAF Base East Sale AF2021 Base Liaison Officer Sharyn Bolitho also attended.
Hazel served in the WAAAF from September 1941 until December 1945.
She was a wireless/telegraphic operator, and described the role as “wonderful, but absolutely exact, as people’s lives depended on it.”
Accuracy and efficiency were essential to perform this role.
Hazel said she enjoyed the good times and endured the hard times.
She spent two years at the headquarters in Melbourne before she was stationed in Townsville for nine months.
She was then stationed in Cairns for 15 months, where she was raised to the rank of Corporal.
A vivid memory she shared occurred in 1943.
The wet season arrived later than anticipated and there was a severe water shortage due to thousands of Australian and American troops stationed in the area.
The WAAAFs were allowed half a bucket of water to shower with a day, which was probably more than the men received.
Hazel became sick with Dengue Fever twice.
Although she valiantly worked through her second illness, she was eventually air lifted from Cairns to the Heidelberg Hospital in Melbourne for recovery.
The job was demanding but Hazel was appreciative of the adventure and the resulting friendships.
Hazel was discharged on December 17, 1945.
She has spent the last 10 years living in Korumburra and loves the town, her neighbours and the community.
She is a beloved member of her exercise group, card making group and the local church.
Hazel enjoyed the presentation and afternoon tea in the company of her daughter Jenny McPhee and husband Gordon, as well as a number of her lovely neighbours and friends, and was delighted to share her stories from the Air Force.