KEYS TO THE CITY
By BIANCA CLARE
WHEN Tammy Rodgers left Woolgoolga to pursue a career in aviation she never imagined her homecoming would include a brass band and beating drums.
The 32-year-old Royal Australian Navy aviation technician yesterday shared her amazing stories about the helicopters on which she has worked and the ships she has served on with students at her old school, Woolgoolga High.
Today, Leading Seaman (LS) Rodgers and her fellow sailors and officers from Nowra based 805 Squadron will be granted the right of Freedom of Entry in an impressive ceremony.The Freedom of Entry is one of the oldest military traditions.
It started in medieval times when before entering a city, armed bodies of men would be challenged with 'Halt, who goes there?'
The unit's commander would show a certificate, which proved his men had permission to enter and the unit would then be permitted into the city.
Today, the privilege of Freedom of Entry to a city is a ceremonial event and is the highest honour a city can extend to a unit of the armed forces as a symbol of mutual respect, trust and confidence.
LS Rodgers joined the Navy in 1997 because of her interest in helicopters and her love for travel.
"I spent 18 months at RAAF Wagga Wagga learning aviation maintenance related skills," she said. "When I started there was one other girl in my recruit group of about 20 but it never bothered me.
"On graduation I was posted to my first helicopter squadron, 723 Squadron at HMAS Albatross in Nowra."
She said said experiencing life at sea was exciting but scary.
"Learning to share toilets, showers and living in a 15-woman sleeping quarter was a big change from sharing a house with my mum, dad and brother."
The Freedom of Entry ceremony and march will take place at 10.15am today.
The Squadron will assemble outside the Coffs Ex-Services Club in Vernon Street and then will march with flying colours, beating drums and band playing to Harbour Drive in the city centre where the ceremony will take place.
The Squadron will be accompanied by the 25-piece Royal Australian Navy Band, which will also present a free community concert at the pavillion in the Regional Botanic Garden from 4.30pm until 6pm.