'Boys' back in town

23:54, Mar 23 2014

Fifty years after graduating from a special air force school at Base Woodbourne, 57 "boys" made the trip back to Blenheim at the weekend for an extra special reunion.

The men, from the 21st class of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Boy Entrant School, graduated in 1964 and were the last group to hold the rank "boy".

They travelled from as far afield as Britain and Australia for the two-day gathering.

Of the 151 "boys" in the class, 20 had died, including one killed in service. Many "boys" could not make the trip because they were not in good health, said reunion co-ordinator Jane Reynolds.

Ms Reynolds said the men had a meet-and-greet on Friday night, before lunch at Base Woodbourne on Saturday.

"I think they really enjoyed meeting the people who are about to do the equivalent [course] to what they did," she said.


Lunch was followed with a visit to the Omaka Heritage Centre, which the men said was "amazing".

Gerry Brill, of Titirangi, said he would have to make another trip to Marlborough to take it all in.

Graham Hickman returned for the weekend from Hawke's Bay.

After graduating, he spent time in the air force based in Marlborough, and also worked for Safe Air for 16 years.

"It's really great to get together, and you see these guys and think, ‘who's that? I know that face', and you're trying to un-age them," he said.

His former classmate, Peter Parmenter, said once the introductions were out of the way it was like no time had passed.

"We lived together for six months in the barracks 24/7 . . . so we did know each other for that short period quite well and it's just interesting to come back and see where the other guys ended up."

The Marlborough Express