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101 Air Supply Unit
101 Air Supply 44.jpg
Active October 1963 – present
Country  South Africa
Branch  South Africa Army
Type Air Supply
Part of 44 Parachute Brigade
Garrison/HQ Lyttelton, Gauteng

The 101st Air Supply Unit is a parachute unit of the South African Ordinance Services Corps. Formed in 1963, it has supported the 44th Parachute Brigade, now 44 Parachute Regiment, since its establishment. It appears to be based at Lyttelton, Gauteng.

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The primary role of the Ordnance Services Corps “is the effective acquisition, receipt, storing, safekeeping, preservation, maintenance, accounting, distribution and disposal of clothing, accommodation, ammunition, vehicles, fuel and spares within the Army". The OSC also delivers specialised services to the Army, which includes computer services, Air Supply and Nature Conservation."[1]

History: Early Days

In the summer of 1962, three candidates were drafted as a part of a plan that would eventually determine the Air Supply capability in the SADF. The three draftees were Tom Moodie, P.A. Goosen, and C. van Heerden, and they had to report for National Service on 3 January 1963 as members of the 101 Air Supply Platoon (101 ASP) of the Active Citizen Force.[2]

Tom Moodie was further selected to attend the Candidate Officer Course which began in April of the same year at the Military Services School. The three draftees were allocated to the then ADK Corps. Tom Moodie was awarded the commission of Assistant Field Cornet (2nd Lieutenant) and served as Quartermaster at 16 K&T Company in the last 3 months of his training.

The two remaining servicemen of the 101 Air Supply Platoon were awarded Non Commissioned Officer ranks and served out their national service as Corporals in the same company, namely 16 K&T, located at the Technical Base at Lyttleton in Pretoria. In April of the same year, a fourth member, Serviceman L. Knobel, was drafted to the same unit. National Service during those days occurred every three months. In the July intake, a further 3 members were drafted to the unit, and in September, another 2 members were drafted. In 1964, another 12 members were drafted to the unit, and at the end of 1964, the unit's strength stood at 21 members. Towards the middle of 1967, the first draft of recruits for 102 Air Supply Platoon commenced.

Establishment of 101 Air Supply Platoon (ASP)

On 23 October 1963, assistant field cornet Tom Moodie was dispatched by captain Jan Klopper to the Northern Transvaal Command. This was where he was informed by Cmdt. C. Spiller that a permanent commission post had now been allocated by the SADF for his position and that this had been awarded to him. (During those times it was practice to forfeit a Commission at the end of one's 9 months National Service).[citation needed]

During this same meeting he was informed that he was being appointed as acting Officer in Command of 101 Air Supply Platoon. Three Personnel Staff Files were then handed to AFC Tom Moodie, namely his own and that of the two Corporals Van Heerden and Goosen. On his appointment as Acting Officer in Command, AFC Tom Moodie was only 19 years old, which made him one of the youngest Officers in Command in the history of the SADF at that time.[citation needed] On 23 April 1964 AFC Tom Moodie was appointed as the permanent OC of 101 Air Supply Platoon, a position that he held for 29 years until 1993. This is one of the longest records for an OC of a unit to hold such a position within the SADF.

In December 1964 the first unit camp was held at "Diensvakskool" with 16 members from 101 ASP.

Other Permanent Force Personnel skilled to a degree in Air Supply Training were Cmdt. Rasie van Vuuren, AO1 H Freso, Lt. T Greef, Cmdt. Jacall, Sgt. J Grobler and Cmdt. V Hatting.

Initially the training took place under the auspices of the "Corps — School Services?", and even later "KDK school?". Since the relocation of 44 Parachute Brigade from Bloemfontein to Pretoria, training took place on a more intensive basis via the Air Supply Wing of the Brigade.

Practical Air Supply has been taking place for over 28 years in the SADF, with the full spectrum of training that included dates of the methods and methodology used in the Second World War being followed (ejection platform, SEAK-pack on C47) to the most modern system LHPLUS applied on the C130.

Camps and Camp Duties

Until the beginning of Operation Savannah in 1975 the unit had participated in scheduled training camps where members were called up and trained over fixed periods. The last opportunity where the unit was called up with all members being present was the first 21 days of February 1975. Up until this period the unit had concluded 10 camps. Since February 1975 the unit has been deployed in a full-time operational capacity and training and training camps have taken place only on an ad hoc basis where certain elements of the unit were involved.

Operational Utilisation

With the commencement of Operation Savannah in November 1975 the unit was deployed in an operational capacity. Originally the unit was deployed in an air transport capacity where members of the unit were stationed at Air Force Base Waterkloof and Air Force Bases in the Operational Area for periods of 3 months to load and off-load C130s and C160s.

At the beginning of the 1980s the air transport responsibilities gradually shifted towards proper air supply and operationally valuable contributions towards the war effort on the ground were now being delivered. In this respect the technique of tying heavy wooden platforms with steel cables, and the usage of modern palettes and the "LAPES" (Low Altitude Platform Extraction Systems) which are currently used. With the scaling down of border activities, the unit has been used on a more ad hoc basis and only involved in national military exercises.

101 Air Supply is an important link within the defense supply chain for the provision of supplies from the base to the fighting strip. In this respect the unit works closely with maintenance units. The Air Supply Unit is not a supply and replenishment unit and also not a typical maintenance unit but rather a unit which can supply necessary supplies and equipment via air at short notice.

Participation in Operations

Participation in Exercises

  • Thunder Chariot (c.1983)
  • Marion Island (Delivery of post and fresh vegetables to the Department of Environmental Affairs)
  • Iron Eagle I, II and III
  • Sweepslag
  • Strandloper
  • Vlakwater
  • Sombre
  • Suiderkruis

Establishment of 101 Air Supply Company

By 1970 101 Air Supply Platoon had participated in six Training Camps. This was in contrast to the members of 102 Air Supply Platoon who from its in June 1967 had not yet participated in any training camps. Allocation of members to 102 Air Supply Platoon was slow and the strategy was to first bring 101 Air Supply Platoon to full strength. At that stage 101 Air Supply Platoon was stationed in Pretoria whilst 102 Air Supply Platoon was stationed at Port Elizabeth. The commander of 102 LAP was Lt. J. Morris.

During 1971, a joint training camp attended by both 101 and 102 Air Supply Platoons at Lens in Johannesburg. On this occasion, Lt. Moodie assumed Command. During May 1972, 101 and 102 ASP Platoons amalgamated as one Company namely 101 Air Supply Company with Lt. Moodie being appointed as the commander. This is the current state still held by this company. Submission has been made to lift this status to the level of a Unit namely 101 Air Supply Unit; however authorisation is still awaited.


Since the inception of the unit in 1963, the unit has been under the command of various headquarters:

  • Oct 1963 – Jan 1974 – Northern Transvaal Command
  • Feb 1974 – Jul 1978 – 1 South African Corps
  • Aug 1978 – Mar 1979 – 44 Parachute Brigade
  • Apr 1979 – Sep 1983 – Army Headquarters
  • Oct 1983 – Jan 1988 – South African Army Logistics Command
  • Feb 1988 – Nov 1996 – 44 Parachute Brigade
  • Dec 1996 – Apr 2008 – South African Army Logistics Command
  • Apr 2008 – date – 44 Parachute Brigade


The unit was established with the aim of strengthening the Conventional capability of the SADF. The unit is divided into four Air Supply Platoons and one Transport Platoon with main responsibility and ability being air transport. Unit Camps were mainly to train members of the unit in both Air Supply and Air Transport.

Since 1964 WO1 Ben Viljoen has been the instructor and has established, offered and coordinated training and practice. Unfortunately no one from the Permanent Force side showed interest, read and researched to the degree that WO1 Ben Viljoen did.

This enthusiasm in Air Supply demonstrated by WO1 Ben Viljoen flourished under the encouragement of Brig A. Botes at HQ–level ensuring that the unit had its proper place, but also distribution within the SADF and rightfully deserved.

If there were a title of "Sir Air Supply" in South Africa, the honor would belong to WO1 Ben Viljoen. 95% of all Air Supply Personnel in South Africa, at some stage underwent training at the hands of WO1 Ben Viljoen and WO1 Hans Fresco.[citation needed]

Commanders and RSMs

Officers Commanding

  • 1987 – Cmdt B. van Vuuren
  • 1988 – Cmdt J. Jackel
  • 1990 – Cmdt J.V. Hattingh
  • 1991 – Cmdt C. Groove
  • 1993 – Cmdt F. Toerrien
  • 1995 – Cmdt. J Loyd
  • 2000 – Cmdt K K Mancotywa
  • 2007 – Cmdt D D Mziki
  • 2009 – present – Cmdt B H Morkel

Regimental Sergeant Major

  • 1991 – WO1 Schutte
  • 1993 – WO1 Heilberg
  • 1995 – WO1 J Teitge
  • 2000 – present – WO1 M Z Mdolo


  1. Engelbrecht, Leon (2006). A guide to the SANDF - unpublished manuscript. Johannesburg. 
  2. Morkel, Cmdt Herman. History of 101 Air Supply. 

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