6 September 2018
Aircraftman Shannon Huntley was the oldest recruit of his Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) recruit course, but that didn’t stop him from winning one of the top awards.
Aircraftman Huntley, 29, a father of two from Picton, was presented with the R.I. Simpson Trophy, for the recruit who achieved the highest overall standard in active defence and range practices, at the graduation ceremony at Base Woodbourne recently.
“I’m tired, but I’m really proud of everything that we’ve been through,” he said. “It’s been a pretty rough 13 weeks for a number of reasons, but it’s all worth it for graduation.”
He graduated alongside 52 other recruits who have completed the three-month training course.
Aircraftman Huntley led the haka at the ceremony.
“I’ve never done it before and I never thought I’d get to do it, so doing it in front of friends and family was pretty special,” he said.
It was difficult to spend the training away from his wife and children, aged 2½ and six months, he said.
“And it was definitely hard for my wife too – maybe harder.”
Training isn’t yet over for Aircraftman Huntley – his next challenge is a three-month firefighting course at Linton Army Camp, near Palmerston North.
“It will be hard going away again, but this time there will be more freedom to go home on weekends. There’s also heaps of support on base for my wife and kids.
“I’ve always wanted to join the Air Force. I’m about to turn 30 and I always said I would do it before I was 30. I just made it.”