December 2012: NEWLANDS NAVAL RESERVIST SHOWS HE’S A BRIGHT SPARK
Former Newlands College student Ira Vickerman has had more adventure as an Able Seaman (ASEA) in the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNZNVR) than many others only dare to dream.
Still based in Newlands, ASEA Vickerman has a day job as a Line Mechanic for an electrical company which involves all aspects of power pole repair and replacement work and operating heavy machinery. But outside of this, he has a parallel career in the military as a Reservist which exposes him to all manner of experiences.
ASEA Vickerman joined the Naval Reserve in 2009 looking for fitness, discipline and adventure and it did not disappoint. As a Naval Reservist, Vickerman practises all aspects of seamanship - working berthing lines, helmsmanship, bowman duty in the Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) and other general maintenance and ships duties.
“I spent six weeks on exercise onboard PUKAKI last year just two days after the second big earthquake in Christchurch.
“We spent two weeks in Lyttleton cleaning up broken glass and debris, pulling down dangerous chimneys and doing night watches to prevent looting in the town.
“The aftershocks were very strong, occurring every few hours. There was a strong smell of rotting food from abandoned shops and homeless cats and dogs roaming the streets," says Vickerman.
He says the experience served as a reminder to him to be grateful to be alive, well and have the basics like a house to live in.
Along with domestic aid missions ASEA Vickerman has conducted a number of patrols around New Zealand also.
“One day coming back into Auckland harbour we had a real ‘man overboard’ situation.
“A lady had fallen off her paddle board off Takapuna Beach and was being swept off shore into the shipping channel. We were called to rescue her and it was then I learned how hard it can be to spot a person in the water. We managed to find her and return her safely which was a rewarding experience,” says ASEA Vickerman.
Vickerman adds that the Naval Reserve offers variety to his everyday life that he cannot get anywhere else.
“Why not join the Reserves where you get paid to operate state of the art boats, get to do the training courses and have a great time doing all of the above? “If you are keen to learn, the crew will become like family and will look after you,” he says.