AFB Ysterplaat held its annual Air Force Memorial Service on 9 May in which the airforce recalls the memory of thousands of its members who gave their lives in service for their country in times of war and in times of peace.
May is traditionally the month in which the South African Air Force Memorial Service is held at the Air Force Memorial on Bays Hill, outside Pretoria. Localised services are also held at airforce bases around the country. The first service was held in May 1950 and since then was annually observed with the exception of 1961 when South Africa became a Republic.
The Memorial Services honour those members who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country. Senior SANDF and political leaders, military units, veterans associations, industry organisations and family members are afforded the opportunity to lay wreaths to commemorate the approximately 3 000 fallen SAAF members.
During the service, the SAAF, next of kin and various veteran organisations laid wreaths. Brigadier General Schoeman laid a wreath on behalf of the Chief of the South African Air Force, while Councillor B Le Roux presented a wreath on behalf of the City of Cape Town.
Representatives of AFB Ysterplaat and the various units based at AFB Ysterplaat laid wreaths, alongside those of the South African Navy, Joint Tactical HQ WC, the Reserve Force and the Cape Town Highlanders. Veterans organisations included the Friends of the SAAF Museum, the Shackleton Association, the RAF Association and Denel.
The SA Army Band performed during the service.
The Air Force Memorial in Pretoria commemorates those who had died while serving in the former statutory and non-statutory forces that form the present Air Force and those who still will bring the supreme sacrifice. It serves as a grave for those who were buried in foreign countries and those for whom no grave exists. Lately a stone was erected at the Memorial to commemorate the Maritime Squadron members from 35 Squadron who died in a plane crash during December 2012.
The SAAF Memorial Service held at Bays’ Hill will be held on Sunday 18 May 2014.