Phil Speaks Good ‘Stralian

Now let me say that I’m impressed by your ability to communicate in ‘Stralian. Your service history shows you have a preference for local ‘attractions’ (!)—Darryl Hill, RAAF ret.

Phil get's his 9000 hr award Apr 2016
Phil Eakin getting his 9,000 hour award on the USS Midway. Phil now has over 15,000 volunteer hours.

You are one lucky bloke.  Just so happens I shared a house on the beach with a few young (at the time)  Aussie naval officers in Long Beach, California in 1975-76 when the HMAS Perth arrived for an overhaul at Long Beach Naval Shipyard and I happened to be a hard-working  LT for the destroyer squadron C.O. who was assigned to be the Perth’s sponsor.  I Invited the first couple guys to join me since all my U.S, flatmates were ordered around the country.  The other Aussie officers invited themselves in, it seems.  Still, a very good time and they got huge cans of dirt-cheap Fosters and hard stuff through the Aussie Consulate in L.A. the whole time they stayed.  I’ve still got a well-worn Aussie flag they purloined off the Perth and gave me as a parting gift (don’t tell anybody).

As one thing leads to another, 5 years later I have orders from Hawaii to the Naval  Post-Graduate School at Monterey, California, a swan if there ever was one, and they say they need a single guy as close as they can get to Australia to fill a brand new billet at Joint Intelligence Organization(JIO), Canberra.  I swore after Long Beach I’d never turn down orders to Oz, so, off I go.  Never looked back.  Wonderful time.  Some Aussie sheila stole my heart there toward the end, so I went back to Canberra in 1985 and married her.  Left Oz on orders as a single guy though.  Couldn’t keep the women off me.  They are not used to guys treating them right, you know.  And I had brought a canary yellow Mazda RX-7 with me from Hawaii.  Anyway, my Best Man was one of the Aussie LT’s I had flatted with in Long Beach.  By then he was Navigator at Fleet HQ.  He had arranged a swan for me to join Fleet Commander’s flagship HMAS Supply at Cannes and ride with them back to Sydney.  I gave a couple of briefs on Soviet subs and got to drink piss in the wardroom with the doctors and the dentists every night.

One of my bosses at JIO was an A-4 pilot named  Errol Kavanaugh.  A good guy.  Held the airspeed record at the time, for the world I think, in an A-4  from Sydney to Perth.  Died piloting a Soviet MiG-17 or MiiG-19  in an air show not long after he retired.  Sad.  My other boss at JIO was a Navy CDR named Ken Tuckey.  After JIO he went to the Oz Embassy in Wash. DC as an attache and got invited to the Kentucky  Derby because of his name.

Carol Eakin Employee of Month
Carol Eakin, Phil’s sheila and wife. Carol is the Military Event s Manager for the USS Midway Museum

Anyway, that sheila and I are still married.  We lived in Melbourne, Perth, and Darwin over 12 years after I retired from the U.S. Navy in 1992.  If you come to the U.S. and need an interpreter, I can do it for you.

Nothing wrong with RAAF guys or P-3 pilots.  Worked with a lot of RAAF types at JIO and socialized with a bunch of others out in town.  I leased a flat in Campbell not far from JIO owned by a whizzened RAAF Sqdnldr at JIO.  Got a RAAF flatmate to whom I was introduced at my first Quiet Sunday Afternoon function at another RAAF guy’s place.  This flatmate, Piggy Padgett, was a F-111 BN by trade but on desk duty in Canberra.  We flatted together for about two years before he got orders elsewhere.  We shared an interest in Australian horse racing and continued contact over the years.  I went back to the Gold Coast from San Diego for his funeral about 10 years ago – prostate cancer – common F-111 crew ailment it seems.  I had learned how he got the name Piggy while at JIO, but didn’t learn how he came to be a BN until his memorial service.  Seems he was a young RAAF pilot who managed to land his aircraft wheels-up at Amberley.  Between the stories his Aussie mates told about him at the service and my documentation of our time together in Canberra and later years, the officiating clergyman said it was the most entertaining memorial service he’d ever attended.  I still get invites to the Royal Avoir Club of Australia annual luncheons or some such.  I think I am an honorary penguin or something.

I was at JIO July 81 – July 84.  While I started as a SWO I had shifted to Intelligence by then.  I would have seen all the Rainform Reds, Whites, Purples, Blacks, if that was the system you guys were using back then, and it seems to me I remember them.

The United States and Australia have been strong allies since before the Second World War.  Phil’s story is an example of a strong friendship between the two countries’ military services.