Zito receives Aust Defence Medal
NOT many council members can say they have flown in a Nimrod plane or befriended wounded Vietnam War troops in Singapore.
But as Kyogle deputy mayor Lynette Zito received the Australian Defence Medal yesterday she reflected on just that.
Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin pinned Ms Zito with the medal, recognising her role in the Women’s Royal Australian Navy Service (WRANS) more than 35 years ago.
Ms Saffin has awarded 20 other locals with the prestigious medal and sees it as a way of recognising ‘their contribution to the nation’s security’ and to say ‘well done’.
Stephen Arkell from Yamba also received the Australian Defence Medal for his role as a cook for the Army Reserves from 1990-1997.
Aside from learning discipline and leadership, mother-of-one Ms Zito enjoyed some ‘fabulous’ experiences during her enlisted years as a radio operator from 1969-1974.
“I served in Victoria, the Northern Territory, and the ACT and with ANZUK in Singapore from 1972,” she said.
“It was during the end of the Vietnam War when troops would be medivaced to Singapore and we would visit them and become friends.
“I remember being able to fly in a Nimrod once and that was just so much fun.
“But the best part was the comradeships. I can walk into any RSL sub-branch and meet up with all military people and there is always that link.”
Comradeship was true to it’s meaning throughout her navy years as Ms Zito promised herself she would never fall for a serviceman after seeing the plight of army wives.
But years on, while working at the US Embassy, Ms Zito found herself in love with a US Air Force officer and ‘that was that.’
With a family history entrenched in the Army, Ms Zito can look back and say she is immensely proud.
“I am very proud as I left in 1974 and it was a long time ago and I have been recognised for that,” she said.
Ms Zito was elected to Kyogle Council in 2008 and currently lives at Sextonville.