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  Memories of Woomera by Mark T. Rigby

Published in The Daily Citizen in 1976
Trevor Innes of Booleroo Centre, Australia and Paul Kretschmer of Adelaide spent Sunday afternoon and night at the home of Mrs. Bun Benton at 410 N. Olive in Searcy visiting with Sgt. and Mrs. Chird Bobbitt. Innes and Kretschmer are touring Mexico, the United States and Canada as they travel around the world by motorcycle and were seen at a local service station by the Bobbitt's who invited them to spend the night.
Sgt. and Mrs. Chird Bobbitt and sons, Shain and Kevin will leave in a few days for Woomera, Australia where they will spend two-years with the U.S. Air Force 5th Joint Defense Space Command as a computer operations supervisor.


Despite hardships, Yanks survive
This article was originally written by Captain Wendell Harris, JDSCS Information Officer
for publication in the Woomera, AR Gibber Gabber
It was modified by Chird Bobbitt for insertion in his local newspaper
Published in The Daily Citizen in 1978

    T-Sgt. Chird Bobbitt is a typical 26th Air Division NCO. He works on a site. He rides a shuttle bus 10 miles to work at Nurrungar, and takes the same bus back to his family. He works shift (4-days, 4-evenings and 4-midnight then 3-days off), and doesn't much like it.
    What makes Chird Bobbitt different from most division NCOs is the scenery on his way to work each day. He looks out on thousands of miles of wasteland where kangaroos and emus are as common rabbits back home.
    Sgt. Bobbitt is assigned to one of the 26th's newest units--the 5th Defense Space Communications Squadron. The squadron is based at Woomera, South Australia.
    The 5th is the American half of the Joint Defense Space Communications Station, a joint U.S.-Australian site which operates and maintains satellite communications equipment. The station is located in the great Australian" Outback"--a million square miles of desolate plains where little rain falls and temperatures often climb well past the 100 degree mark, where July is cold and December is hot. Only the native Aboriginal people can survive without modern conveniences.
    Like other squadron people, his wife Dyann plans shopping trips well in advance. Shopping means a 130-mile drive to the nearest town of Port Augusta, monthly and 300-miles to the capital city of Adelaide for more U.S. type shopping every three to six months. Basic necessities--food and some clothing--are available in the village of Woomera, but site people enjoy a shopping trip to the city every month or two. Most people try to cut down on the number of trips they make because autos take a good beating on the 30-mile dirt section of the road, and kangaroos and grazing livestock makes the trip even more hazardous.
    Movies provide diversion for 5th people, but only three nights a week. Television is not a very good substitute. There is only one station, operated by the government with programs similar to the educational network in America.
    Woomera might not sound like a choice assignment and it does present some problems most Americans aren't accustomed to facing. Yet morale among the near-200 Air Force members at the 5th is high.
    Site people are carefully screened before being assigned to the 5th and every member knows his job is important to the unit's vital mission. Secondly, each site member needs each other member. This mutual dependence provides an atmosphere of confidence and friendship not always found in other organizations. Members and dependents become involved in everything from sports to welfare drives; from amateur theater to antique hunting. No one is left out.
    Even though water is piped in from 300 miles away and a shopping trip means an all-day drive, even though squadron members can't talk about their jobs and "home" is a three-day flight by military plane, most Woomera people will probably tell you they're glad they were assigned here.
    Some even extend beyond the two year tour, but to most the lure of the C-141 sitting on the runway is too tempting to turn down.



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