Brian Dirou joined the RAAF early 1957 as a trainee aircrew signaller graduating as NCO aircrew and serving on Lincoln and Dakota aircraft before undergoing pilot training after being commissioned. Further service on Dakotas followed then a tour on Sabre fighter aircraft before Iroquois helicopter training in 1967. He served in Vietnam during 1968, 1969 and 1971 accumulating 4,360 sorties and was involved in 211 insertions/extractions of Australian and New Zealand Special Air Service patrols. He was mission leader for 2 of only 4 night extractions of SAS patrols in contact with enemy forces during Australian involvement in that war earning an ‘in-the-field’ award of the Distinguished Flying Cross invested personally by HRH Queen Elizabeth II. Paralleling his very active operational roles in 1968/69, he was Project Officer for development and operational introduction of the unique RAAF UH-1H Iroquois (Bushranger) gunship. During his overall Vietnam service, he participated in 50 engagements with enemy forces including 15 flying Bushranger gunships in May 1969. Following completion of Royal Australian Air Force Staff College training in 1975, he commanded No. 9 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley Queensland during 1976/77 and retired early from the Air Force in 1978 after 4 years as a Wing Commander. Brian spent 10 mainly involved in flight simulator training with international airlines in Australia, Austria, Kuwait (post-Gulf War) and Brunei preceding retirement in 1999.
Published by Brian & Diane Dirou, Tanilba Bay, NSW, 2319, Australia. First Edition, November 2007. ISBN 978-0-9804474-1-5 (CD version). A print version will be available by mid-2008.
The story '...and so, a Gunship was born' graphically depicts operational considerations that motivated development of an integral gunship capability for No. 9 Squadron RAAF while operating as a component of 1 Australian Task Force during the Vietnam War. A unique weapons system was created through necessity and ingenuity while the squadron was doubling in strength and heavily committed in combat operations. The story embraces near 200 illustrations and tables identifying numerous personnel of multiple armed forces and recounts several action events intermingled with military professionalism, humour, sadness and the brutality of warfighting. An educational tome for all generations concerning the Vietnam War.