Rohrsheim, Graham “Zork” LCDR DSC RAN (Ret’d) R51327
Born in Port Pirie (SA) on 6 December 1931, ‘Zork’ joined the Fleet Air Arm on 10 September 1955 and qualified as a pilot on Fireflies and Sea Furies, before moving on to the jets (Vampire and Sea Venoms).
The decision to axe the Fleet Air Arm’s fixed wing aircraft in 1959 (a policy later reversed) saw him elect to fly helicopters. In those early days the Navy’s rotary-wing aircraft were somewhat more unreliable than fixed-wing and he walked/swam away from no less than eight engine failures over successive years, including one where he autorotated a Wessex onto the deck of HMAS Melbourne in Wellington Bay – a stunning piece of airmanship.
Zork was probably most remembered for his command of the second Flight of the RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam (RAN HFV), a position in which he served with distinction from September 1968 to October 1969. You can read the story of the RAN HFV here.
After leaving the RAN in 1983 he flew for various civilian operators, mostly for TV filming and in the oil industry.
Zork was one of the great personalities of the Fleet Air Arm, but the affliction from which he suffered eventually took his life on Monday 3rd September 2018. The day before he had been given his RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam Unit Citation for Gallantry (UCG) medallion by his daughters, who had received it on his behalf. We like to think that he knew exactly what it was, and it was a source of great pride and satisfaction to him just before his final journey. He leaves behind his widow Margaret, children Michaela, Geoffrey, Heidi, James (deceased) Andrew and David and 14 grandchildren.
A short piece by himself, inaccurately called “Tales of a Dull, Colourless Old Fart” provides a little about his life. As the title suggests, it is written with a directness and humour which were hallmarks of this remarkable individual. You can read it here.
The funeral service was held at the Port Pirie Anglican Cathedral on Monday 10 September 2018, followed by internment at the Port Pirie Garden of Memory Cemetery.
Below: Funeral 10 September 2018.