We have received advice that Peter RUHL, ex-CPO ATWO and a valued member of the third contingent of the RAN HFV,  passed away  in Wollongong Hospital.  He had been admitted a few weeks ago and was undergoing treatment for cancer.

Peter was born on 21 Sept 1946 in Holland and his family were living in Brisbane when he joined the RAN as an Adult Entry through HMAS CERBERUS on 6th March 1964. He was categorised as a Naval Air Mechanic Weapons 2 on 9thJune 1965 and was granted acting Leading Air Mechanic Weapons rank on 19th January 1968; making him a ‘Mickey Mouse’ killick until he got his first Good Conduct Badge in March 1968.

Peter’s early qualifications were on the weapons systems of Vampire, Sea Venom, Gannet and Wessex aircraft. He served in HMAS MELBOURNE on two occasions as well as the usual postings to the Weapons Workshops and HMAS ALBATROSS squadrons before being posted to the Third Contingent of the RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam, under LCDR David Farthing, in September 1969. Peter’s last front-line posting was embarked in MELBOURNE with VF805 Squadron’s ‘Skyhawk’ fighter-bombers. This was to be the final deployment to sea of the A-4G’s and Peter was the squadron’s Chief Armourer.

Whilst serving with the RANHFV he met and fell in love with Rosemary, the daughter of a South Vietnamese family. In what must rate as the most efficient severing of military red tape ever, Peter and Rosemary were married with the combined blessings of the OIC RANHFV, LCDR David Farthing and the US Army CO 135th AHC, Major Walter Alexander. Here is how CDRE David Farthing DSC, RAN (rtd) recently described it:

“The Australian Government sent a very firm instruction that the marriage was NOT repeat NOT to take place!! I spoke to our US CO, Walter Alexander, who had already been ordered that this marriage was NOT repeat NOT to take place. It really had nothing to do with the Americans as those involved were Australian and Vietnamese! However, both Walter and I were really tired, and we decided to tell both our governments to get “nicked.” The next Saturday was a Company stand-down and Walter organized the Battalion priest to come to Bear Cat and perform a marriage in the Mess Hall. It was a very successful event, everyone enjoyed themselves. Amazingly, there were no repercussions from higher authority!!”

Peter and Rosemary have three children, Dr Eric Ruhl is a GP, practising in Sydney’s western suburbs.  LCDR Paul Ruhl is a Seaman Officer with 34 years’ full-time service. Paul has served in the Sail Training Ship YOUNG ENDEAVOUR and was commissioning CO of the Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS ARARAT based in Cairns and Darwin, whilst their daughter Veronica is employed in the aged-care sector.

On leaving the Navy Peter operated a very successful milk wholesaling business in the Shoalhaven whilst Rosemary was the proprietor of a busy café in Nowra’s CBD. Together with family and business commitments, Peter and Rosemary devoted many hours and boundless energy to charitable work with Nowra’s St. Michael’s Catholic Parish, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and with veterans and families support groups.

Peter Ruhl passed away on Sunday 25th February while in care at Wollongong hospital. Peter’s funeral will be conducted at St. Michael’s, Nowra on Monday 11th March 2024 commencing at 1100. Serving and former Fleet Air Arm friends and colleagues are invited to attend. Murphy’s Family Funerals of Nowra will also be live streaming the service via their website: https://murphyfamilyfunerals.com.au/tribute/all-services/index.html

Thanks to Terry Hetherington for researching this Obituary.