They've been honoured at the state level but the humble team at Hamilton Air Base say they're most proud to carry on the legacy of the stalwart who started it all.
A team of 30 south-west volunteers at the largest CFA-operated air base in Victoria has emerged winners in this year's Spirit of the CFA awards ceremony.
The Excellence in Capability Planning 2020 Team Award bestowed acknowledged the outstanding achievement and significant contribution made by both staff and volunteers.
The Hamilton-based team - comprised of 16 brigades - was instrumental in safeguarding the south-west community during the 2019-20 bushfires.
It's estimated in the period from mid-December to mid-February 2020 crews loaded 310 air attack aircraft and up to 52 aircraft in one day.
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The base was established by 40-year Bochara and Dunkeld brigade volunteer Leighton Wraith who saw the need for better ground support and deployment in the region after fires tore through the Grampians in 2013.
Air base manager and volunteer of more than 50 years Simon Wilson said the team's award was recognition of Mr Wraith's legacy.
"Leighton was the driving force behind the air base and the one who had the idea of utilising volunteers to support air operations," Mr Wilson said.
"We're carrying on his legacy. It's very much a team effort and the spirit is really high among our members.
"Our response times are fantastic and we feel as though we are making a real difference and contribution.
"Receiving a Spirit of CFA team award is an honour and a fitting way to recognise the contribution Leighton and our volunteers have made to the south-west region and broader state air base operations."
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