A military police sailor scattered his father’s ashes from a taipan in tribute to his father’s love of flying.
Petty Officer Jean Metcalf was unable to attend the funeral due to COVID restrictions but flew across the Straits of Malacca to make the poignant gesture.
The MRH-90 took off from HMAS Adelaide during the Indo-Pacific Endeavor (IPE) 2022 while en route to Malaysia.
Naval Police helmsman Petty Officer Jean Metcalf said the scattering of the ashes was significant because his father, an Army veteran, spent part of his childhood at Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth and later became a civilian helicopter pilot.
“When I wasn’t able to attend Dad’s funeral, I asked that some of his ashes be kept so I could say goodbye in a way that was meaningful to both of us,” PO Metcalf said.
“Dad was a helicopter pilot. He helped me get my pilot’s license and gave me the love of flying.
“I had the idea of air-dropping Dad’s ashes then realized I’d be in Adelaide by the time she walked past Butterworth to IPE22.
“Since Dad has always supported my naval service and had great memories of my childhood in Malaysia, I thought maybe this could be my way of honoring him.
“When the flight crew found out about Dad’s flying experience and his connection to Malaysia, they wanted to help arrange a flight and the Malaysian authorities were equally accommodating.
“I think it shows that we are not a shipping company and an embarked force when deployed. We are a united force – like a family.
“I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to honor Dad and like to think he would be happy to be back in Malaysia.”
IPE, one of Australia’s key regional activities, returned to Southeast Asia and the North East Indian Ocean in September-November.
This year, IPE 2022 took place in 14 countries including Maldives, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia.
IPE began in 2017 as an annual activity coordinated by the ADF to deliver on the promise of the 2016 Defense White Paper and strengthen Australia’s engagement and partnerships with regional security forces.
The official launch and departure of the IPE22 Maritime Task Group aboard HMA vessels Adelaide and Anzac took place in October from Fort Hill Wharf in Darwin.