A good turn out of ACA Members, Nearly all as it happens Ex and serving Chairmen with those still in service wearing uniform;
Denis Woodhams and Margaret,
Clive Brooks and Diana,
Harry Worth and Linda,
John Sheldon and Cath,
Mo and Mary Byham,
Mike and Brenda Littler
Patron Andy Barnwell with his wife Linda.
A most impressive tribute to Mike was a low level, slow fly past of the Cremetorium by a Jungly Merlin from Yeovilton imediately prior to the coffin being escorted into the chapel.
A fine humanist send off with the ACA standard being paraded and eulogy given and a message from Rab Starratt(Butler), who unfortunately was in Thailand,
by our present Chairman, Jay O'Donnell.
This was followed by the wake at the RYA club in the Marina below Mikes house hosted by his sons and daughter. Denis read out a poem that he had written
It was during the wake that we discovered that Mike has been extremely generous and donated an impressive sum of money to be placed behind the bar at ACA 2019 in Weymouth
All of the readings are reproduced below.
Despite serving in the FAA all of your career and for me, for most of mine, I only knew you personally from the early 70s. Although flying in the same service, as a bunch of ratings from various branches doing differing jobs in different places we were a band of brothers earning the equivalent of 7new pence a day (without diving pay) until the Admiralty in its wisdom, decided to unite us under one umbrella branch.
You saw the opportunity to go a stage further and to create an Association of Aircrewmen. It started, as it always does, from humble beginnings over a pint (or two) and very shortly, the interest grew....enough to hold a provisional meeting of about 24-30 Aircrewmen in the Countess Wear. You got the ball rolling with your own ideas of the directions you foresaw..and those present unanimously voted you in as our first Chairman, with your co-Host Ted Crispin as Vice.
Ikey Millard ran a Post Office so was a 'shoe-in' as Treasurer.
For my sins, being the only one in the room with a working biro, I became the Secretary and I've got to say, it was a sincere privelege and a pleasure to help you set up, what was shortly to be called, the ACA... to formulate its original Constitution, to register us with Companies House and to inform other organizations that we were formally up-and-running and here for the duration. We also tried to get the ACA registered as a Charity, with tax benefits of course, but they saw through us right away.
It took a few years of graft for those founder members to spread the word around the Air Stations and, if I can name a few 'stand-out ' characters! It would have to include our Social Sec' Brian Johnson for his lively stag-nights ( before the days of Political Correctness)... and Denis Woodhams for allowing those dodgy socials to take place at the Countess Wear. I would also like to mention our first Patron Jim Flindell who worked behind the scenes to elevate our professional standing in the Naval community.
But Michael, it was your foresight and enthusiasm which rubbed off on all of us, and most of all, it's a testament to you, that this Association is thriving as it is today.
I also have a lot to thank you for personally.
In my time as Chairman, I got to march in the Royal Tournament, Earls Court with Denis Woodhams and Dave Airey...representing your ACA. I also sat opposite a Victoria Cross holder and next to an Admiral at a Taranto night dinner in the Military Club, Piccadilly, again, representing your ACA.
It felt, at times, like a big jump from a no-badge killick UC(Air) to Chairman of your ACA.
You've earned your place in our line book Mike
Rest assured you will be remembered....now, go light the fires, kick the tyres and fly high up there....and don't forget your Despatcher Harness (if there's anywhere to hook it onto?)
P.s. You could always start a local branch up there, you should be able to muster a Quorum by now...if you haven't already?
The need for SAR Divers was created on September 25th 1958 when Commander Russell lost his life in a Scimitar aircraft of HMS Victorious, when it went over the side after an arrester wire failed. The helicopter crew were unable to save him despite the fact they were overhead immediately. The first SAR Divers used Westland Normal Air breathing sets which lightweight but had no mouthpiece in a full face mask. They wore dry suits which were one piece rubber "bags", quite difficult to get into and needed the assistance of another member of the crew.
According to record files
T'was Michael Green who did the trials
Bill Rodgers was there with him too
But sadly couldn't see it through
His diving skills were up to par
But jumping was a bit too far
It caused his legs to turn to jelly
And he just kept landing on his belly
With several methods tried and done
Mike qualified as number one
We're very grateful for his lead
And followed him to fill the need
NormalAir was our breathing lot
And rubber bags that made us hot
The Whirlwind seven was our steed
And Michael Green had sown the seed
In civvy street he made his mark
When into print he did embark
In seventy-Six, a pivotol year
He came down to the Countess Wear
Along with stalwarts old and bold
A special club would soon unfold
With Mike and Ted and Me and others
Who all wore wings, a band of brothers
And so the ACA was born
At Countess Wear one Sunday morn
The following year in Seventy-Seven
The ACA evolved in Devon
Mike was Chairman number One
A splendid era had begun
Ted Crispin next, followed by me
As I was Chairman number three
Down at Ower and idea began
Three crewman had a cunning plan
Sailing in Greece we would explore
It changed Mike's life for evermore
Out to the Med he made his life
With June his most devoted wife
For years the lived beneath the sails
Then finally retired to Wales
Some years later June was gone
But Michael bravely soldiered on
Now reunited they have been
So rest in peace dear Michael Green
I thought it would be appropriate to reflect, from my personal perspective, on the ‘family’ that Mike and his fellow ACMN started over 40 years ago in 1977! That family is the Aircrewmans Association. We have over 400 members and those numbers continue to grow every year especially, I am delighted to say, with new serving Royal Naval Aircrewman joining. I’m know that Mike was truly proud of what he started back then but he had no idea, when sitting round that pub table with a couple of “oppo’s”, quite what an astonishing association he was creating nor did he ever imagine it would grow to be one of the most respected of all the UK military associations with such a superb mix of serving and retired Aircrewman.
My memories of Mike were always in the social environment at our annual ACA AGM and Gala Dinner weekends. Always a very spritely and dapper figure, it was difficult to pin point his age for sure. His dits and stories did him no favours though because it was obvious that for him to spin them he had to be older that the 70 he looked!
Sharing his memories as our Guest of Honour was tremendous, not only for Mike but also, for all of us. It gave him the opportunity to reflect on the past, present and his hopes for the future. It was clear that he was extremely proud of what he and his colleagues had founded and how under all of their leadership the association has grown from strength to strength.
Hearing the many jolly japes and courses he had attended and looking at the faces of those around me, those that I had always looked up to, was astounding. Not a shock but the awe and interest that my hero’s gave him, said it all.
I remember some years ago he commented on the SAR Diver cummerbunds that I had designed and made. He hadn’t heard about them and was asking where he could get one? Without any hesitation, Alf Kitwood, removed his and gave it to Mike. For me this just demonstrates the tremendous respect and admiration we all had for Mike.
So, it goes without saying that Mike’s ACA member number is 1, he started it, and he earned it. His name is first on the decorative gavel and shall remain.
I will sign off now with a prayer I found many years ago and stole, calling it the SAR Divers prayer:
When I'm called to duty God,
To dive beneath the waves,
To search for an unfortunate soul,
Whose body thy have claimed.
Let swiftness be my virtue,
To find that soul in time,
Please let this be a rescue Lord,
And not the "other kind".
Be my eyes in the darkest lake,
And guide me with your hand,
That this person be saved,
When we return to land.
If this is not your will, Oh Lord,
Then please show me the way,
To sort out this mystery,
And dive another day.
If things become their darkest lord,
And its me that you call home,
Please guide my friends and family,
That they'll never walk alone.