Air Force Base Overberg honours fallen SAAF members


On Friday 20 May, Air Force Base Overberg held a memorial service to honour members of the South African Air Force (SAAF) who passed away while in service of their country.

Throughout the South African Air Force, annual memorial services are held at all bases during May to honour the fallen.  However, Covid-19 and the resultant restrictions prevented these services from taking place in 2020 and 2021, writes Major Mathea Kapp.

The Overberg memorial is only the such service to be held at the monument, which was constructed in 2019.  Before the memorial was built, services took place in the hangar on the base, and even once in the Bredasdorp cemetery near the base.

The monument consists of two semi-circular walls that encompass a fountain and a memorial wall.  The names of members of Air Force Base Overberg who died while in service have been listed along with the date of their passing on the memorial wall.  Not only uniformed members but also civilian members of Air Force Base Overberg are acknowledged. On the other side of the wall, facing the back entrance to the memorial site is a three-dimensional rendering of the base emblem; a tawny eagle grasping a key in its talons.  On top of the fountain is a life-size silhouette of a saluting airman.

Friday’s memorial service was led by the Chaplain Xolani Maholwana of Air Force Base Overberg.  After his message the Last Post was played by a trumpeter, followed by a two-minute silence which was broken by the sounding of the Reveille.

Wreaths were laid by Brigadier General Carl Moatshe on behalf of the Chief of the South African Air Force, Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo; Brigadier General (retired) Marthie Visser on behalf of the South African Air Force Association; Colonel Donovan Chetty on behalf of Air Force Base Overberg; and Rear Admiral Junior Grade Lisa Hendricks on behalf of Flag Officer Fleet.

This was followed by wreaths by Deputy Mayor Overberg District Municipality, Counsellor Helen Coetzee; Deputy Mayor Cape Agulhas Municipality, Counsellor Raymond Ross; Ms Bridget Salo (Denel Overberg Test Range); the Friends of the Air Force, Bredasdorp High School and Bredasdorp Primary School.

Members of the Fluks, Harper, Hartnick, Jansen van Vuuren, Jongie, Josephs, and Pieters families all paid tribute to their loved ones who had passed away while serving at Air Force Base Overberg.  Wreaths were also laid by colleagues of Airman Sofute and Mrs Marais.

The memorial service was attended by all members of Air Force Base Overberg as well as a number of invited guests.  Brigadier General AJ de Castro, the previous Officer Commanding Air Force Base Overberg and now Commandant of the South African Military Academy, and Colonel Gaba Mahanjana, Officer Commanding Joint Tactical Head Quarters Western Cape, also attended.  Other guests included local clergymen, members of the South African Police Services and the Department of Correctional Services.