We have been advised that James (Jim) Buchanan passed away in Canberra on the morning of 17 February 2023. He was 79 years old.

Jim was born in Collie, WA on 7th August 1943 and attended Christian Brothers School.  He had intended a theological path, but instead joined the Navy in 1962 as a Midshipman. Having completed his basic training at HMAS Cerberus and at RAAF Point Cook (No.49 course on Winjeel fixed-wing aircraft), was posted to Albatross in September of 1963 for 723 Squadron, for helicopter Conversion Training.  He was the last student to do this training on the Bristol Sycamore. You can see an article on his Sycamore experiences here.

Wessex Operational Training on 725 Squadron followed, and then over the next few years he served on 723 and 817 Squadrons, including on HMAS Melbourne, as a qualified Wessex pilot.

In November 1969 he was selected for Service in the RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam (RANHFV), arriving in the Republic of Vietnam in October 1970 as part of the fourth contingent which served in that Unit. During this time he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for conspicuous gallantry, the citation for which reads, in part:

“…On 4 December 1970 [Lieutenant] Buchanan performed an extraordinary act of flying skill whilst operating in the U Minh Forest area… [when he] was called to evacuate a crewman of a South Vietnamese patrol boat…while a second boat stood off.
Lt Buchanan began the extraction of the crewman. Suddenly the group came under a heavy enemy attack. The patrol boat standing 50m away took a direct hit from an enemy rocket and was blown out of the water. Realising that the boat with which he was operating was disabled and drifting towards the enemy-held shore, Lt Buchanan pressed the skids of his helicopter onto the deck of the vessel and pushed the boat to safety. All the while, his aircraft was receiving heavy automatic weapon and 82mm mortar fire. For his coolness, determination and courage under fire in the face of a determined enemy, Lieutenant Buchanan was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.”

On return to Australia numerous postings followed with his final flying posting returning him to 723 Squadron as Commanding Officer flying both the  Iroquois and the Bell 206.

Jim retired from the RAN after 27 years’ service in 1989 and joined the Public Service working both in Canberra and overseas.He leaves behind his children Katherine, Simon (dec), Serena, Emily and Jamie, and his grandchildren Christiana, Joshua, Violet and Lincoln.

The funeral is scheduled for Wednesday: March 1st 2023 at 1:30 PM (Canberra/Sydney time) at Norwood Park Crematorium. Attendees are requested to wear medals.  John Macartney, who was a good friend to Jim for many years, has agreed to provide a Naval Eulogy.

For those who would like to pay their respects but can’t physically attend the funeral in Canberra, you can watch it live by clicking on the link here.  Enter the PIN 4348 when prompted.

Below.  This painting by David Marshall hangs in the FAA Museum in Nowra, NSW.  It is reproduced here with the blessing of the Museum.  It may not be reproduced, downloaded or used in any way without the express permission of the museum.  Use the ‘Contact FAAAA’ button at the foot of this page if you require any information.