Alan Reed, an amazing bloke came late into my life at the MSAC Gym. Strangely we chatted in the change rooms and it soon came out that he was not only a RAAF pilot but a retired Air Vice Marshall, the second highest rank in our Air Force. Alan was born in 1933 in Western Australia, of humble but determined parents. As I was a few months younger and had done Nasho in the Navy and he in the force we seemed to hit it off. Alan aspired to air crew but reached the rank of corporal. Air crew proved too elusive in that six months.
After discharge from NASHO, Alan, who in civil life had been doing accountancy, which he now found dull, applied for and was accepted in an intake of hopeful pilots. He had found his forte. Pilot training soon saw him as a natural. Graduating as a pilot he had the rank of sergeant then flight sergeant and, as chance would have it, all pilots were to be given commissioned rank, which saw Alan now a pilot officer. Flying bombers became second nature for him with service in the USA.
As he says in his biography, Invited to a War, he “met the girl of his dreams” and married Aileen, with whom he had two sons, Gus and Cameron. His family and the RAAF were his life. His first time in the USA had him so enamoured with his craft as a pilot that he volunteered to serve with the United States Air Force in Vietnam where he saw real action.
On return to Australia, Canberra bombers dominated his service life. This saw a return to the USA as Australia’s Air Attaché and promotion to Group Captain. Following this appointment it was Head Quarters Support Command Melbourne and eventual promotion to Air Vice Marshal.
What an amazing career for a man as humble, yet dedicated to both career and family as Alan was. How lucky I was to have met such a man, albeit in our 80’s during time spent together at U3A Port Phillip.
Chocks away and clear skies ahead for a great fellow.
by Colin Macleod, Tutor U3A Port Phillip