23 July 2015
In late June, Sergeant Dave Cresswell helped load and transport eight-year-old Sri Lankan elephant Anjalee from Niue to New Zealand. The following week, he was rigging the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft for air drops and tactical missions in support of a multi-national coalition fighting the ‘ground war’ in Central Queensland as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015.
“The tasks are varied and interesting. It certainly beats flying a desk,” the Palmerston North local said of his job as Air Loadmaster for the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s 40 Squadron.
“The C-130 Hercules is known as a workhorse for a reason. We carry thousands of tonnes of heavy cargo a year but, to my knowledge, flying Anjalee to and from Niue is the first time we have flown a 1.7-tonne elephant.”
Sergeant Cresswell forms part of 40 Squadron’s 25-member contingent to Talisman Sabre 15, the largest warfighting exercise that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) conducts with the US military.
During the exercise, 40 Squadron have been operating alongside the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) 37 Squadron out of Townsville. They have airlifted hundreds of troops across the battlefield to support land manoeuvres as well as airdropped food, water, ammunition and first aid supplies to the troops fighting the ground war.
“As Air Loadmaster, my main responsibilities include loading or unloading the aircraft, rigging the aircraft for air drops or parachuting, conducting the air drops and facilitating the transport of passengers and cargo,” said the Palmerston North Boys’ High School alumnus.
Sergeant Cresswell said his work during the exercise has consolidated his recent Loadmaster tactical upgrade training. His recent deployments since becoming Air Loadmaster brought him to cyclone-damaged Vanuatu for the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission and to Niue, to bring home Auckland Zoo’s newest resident.
“In the past three weeks, I’ve worked closely with a C-130J crew from RAAF’s 37 Squadron and I will apply some of the things I learnt about how they conduct air drops and tactical missions,” he said.
Sergeant Cresswell joined the military in 2004, fulfilling a childhood dream to follow the footsteps of his father, two grandfathers, three uncles and two aunts.
“With many members of my family in the armed forces, it seemed a natural choice. Personally, I feel it is a privilege to serve our country,” he said.