The Story Of A Soldier’s Wife – Butterworth Here We Come

Time flew by fast as lightning and before we knew it, it was time to move to Butterworth where my husband would assume the post of Deputy Flight Commander at No. 3 Squadron. It was a minor appointment, nothing to rave about but a recognition, nevertheless.

I submitted my application for transfer, too, and that was about all that I did on my own. The rest was handled by my super efficient husband. He had no qualms meeting the high-powered Education officials both at the ministerial and state levels to get my transfer approved at the same time as him, to a school of HIS choice NOT mine. He was not particularly bothered being given the cold shoulder each time he was granted an audience with these officials. I cringed every time he proudly announced how he bulldozed his way to get them to approve my transfer. I knew I had to bear the brunt of his brashness, brusqueness and boldness when I reported for duty at the new school. The principal would most certainly be briefed on how I managed to squeeze myself into his school in the first term of school. This would upset the entire time-table and worse, the teacher who prepared it. I shuddered at the thought of confronting her/him. But I knew how to play my cards to redeem my husband’s lack of tact in handling the case.

I gallantly came to the rescue when the school scouted hopelessly for parachutes to erect tents for the Annual School Sports. There were no mobile tents then, like what we have now. I pleaded with my husband to lend me some parachutes which were used to send in supplies to the interior regions using the Caribou aircraft. He brought home an assortment of red, blue, yellow and white parachutes which I distributed to the respective House Masters. Except for the Green House Master who was slightly disappointed at getting the white parachutes, the remaining three were ecstatic to get the exact colour that matched their House. Just for the record, Green House were losers even before the game started and they remained that way till the end, unfortunately. The principal was extremely pleased with my gesture, loaning the parachutes for free. He never failed to give me a broad smile and a nod, too, every time I passed by him.

My husband prided himself not only in getting my transfer approved but also in getting a school just next door to the Base and directly opposite our quarters. It was so convenient. I just had to cross the road to get to school. It was a dream come true EXCEPT that I had to climb the 20-foot-high fence that enclosed the whole living complex AND risked getting shot if I tried to clear the fence. I chose a safer route by driving to school.

St Mark’s Secondary School (SMKs were not implemented yet) was situated next to the runaway. Both our F5E jet fighters and the Australian Mirage would exert full power at the threshold before taking off. The noise was thunderously deafening, to put it mildly. I would shout and scream to make myself heard much to the amusement of my students. My voice would be completely drowned by the furious roar of the jet engines. My students would just stare blankly at me, some trying hard to suppress a laughter at my contorted facial expression after having screamed so much so loud so often.

Both the Malaysian Air Force and the Australian Air Force officers shared the same living complex but the Aussies got to stay in the quarters facing the sea and we had to face the trunk road for all traffic moving up north or down south. The North-South Expressway was non-existent yet. While they had the cool refreshing sea breeze caressing their faces, we had to inhale the hot carbon monoxide and dust particles from the continuous flow of traffic. We had both air and sound pollution right in front of our doorstep. But I had one consolation. The NAAFI was just a stone’s throw away from our quarters. What more could I ask for?

To be continued…….

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3 responses to “The Story Of A Soldier’s Wife – Butterworth Here We Come

  1. I really enjoy reading your early stints at the Butterworth RMAF air-base which reminded me of old memories during yesteryears.

    • AFM,
      Never knew that you were from Butterworth. I loved the place. The fact that it’s so near to Penang made it even more appealing. Used to drive around Bagan Ajam, Bagan Jermal. Lots of siput kemudi at Prai.

  2. Come come now Puan Sitiroffini the man has earned his boasting rights you cannot deny that. With regards the NAAFI now known as PERNAMA it is now nothing more than a Kedai Runcit  not worth a visit.

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