It was the summer of 1962 when Leone Wilson joined the Women’s Royal Australian Air Force, beginning a 12-year career serving on bases throughout the nation.
Her time with the RAAF was not only where she met her husband John, it was also the start of a lifelong passion in volunteering for the veteran community.
Leone's dedication has been highlighted as part of Bundaberg Regional Council's Our People Our Stories initiative, which celebrates local residents.
After moving to Bundaberg in 1980, Leone said she and John became heavily involved in local organisations.
“One of our first Bundaberg committee involvements was with the Bundaberg Soaring Club, however it was the various organisations centred on defence service veterans that saw both of us becoming very involved, notching up decades in committee executive positions,” Leone said.
Through her many roles within local community and veteran organisations, Leone said she became a prolific newsletter creator, which was something she had learned to love.
“The importance of communication has always been a driver for me,” she said.
“Producing newsletters for members became a secondary but very important part of the committees on which I served.
“For the RAAF Association I have produced monthly newsletters for 20 years, for the Bundaberg RSL Sub Branch it was 30 years, and I am still producing them for women veterans after 27 years and the RAAFA.
“I also introduced a newsletter to the RSL Wide Bay Burnett District and produced that regularly during my 18 years on the committee executive.”
Leone said one of the highlights during her 40 years of working in the veteran community came in 2014 when a long-held desire to see the War Nurses Memorial Park enhanced to honour the regional nurses who had served in the Australian Defence Forces was realized.
“Aided by a newly-elected president of our Ex-Servicewomen’s Association, this project developed into a very fitting tribute to these selfless people who provide care and comfort to our service men and women,” she said.
“Officially opened in 2014, plaques and tributes have been added since, marking significant anniversaries.”
Leone said this year would be a very special time not only for herself, but also for the many women veterans throughout the nation.
“In 2022 the Vietnam War will be honoured, and the women veterans are pleased to be able to provide this tribute to the nurses and medics of the Bundaberg/Burnett region,” she said.
“We will also pay tribute to 75 years of Australian peacekeeping/peacemaking.
“The wellbeing of women veterans and the honouring through commemoration of all servicemen and women is a continuing aim for the Bundaberg District Women Veterans.
“I am so proud to be a part of that.”
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