Grandparents have provided the aerial and medical inspiration for Sam Percival to join the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a medic.

He has just completed two-and-a-half years of training and study at Defence Health School based at Burnham Military Camp. He also received the RNZAF top student award at graduation.

Aircraftman Percival, 24, who was born in Britain but moved to Auckland when he was 13, said his grandfather, who served in the British Army, was a huge influence in his decision to join the Air Force.

“As a young boy he would take me to the Farnborough Air Shows.

“I remember being truly fascinated by everything that I saw and I think those memories remained engrained within me whilst growing up and deciding on my future,” he said. 

When deciding on a trade, the stories he heard from his grandmother, who was a nurse, stuck with him.

“As soon as I saw medic as one of the trades within the Defence Force, I knew that is the one I wanted to do.

“My Grandma’s passion for helping people definitely rubbed off on me.”

He said the highlight of the course was the medic operational phase.

“This involved lots of challenging trauma scenarios, while tying together all of the other knowledge I had culminated over the two and a half years on course.”

Aircraftman Percival is looking forward to posting to Whenuapai Defence Health Centre and putting his training into action. He has a few goals for 2021.

“One of them is to initialise the start-up of a men’s clinic at the Whenuapai Health Centre. This is to provide men with the opportunity to see a male medic or doctor for any men’s health problems they may face.

“As soon as I heard the idea I knew it was something I wanted to be on board with.

“The clinic will also grant me the chance to expand my learning into the men’s health field, using external training resources as leading tools,” he said. 

His advice of anyone wanting to join the New Zealand Defence Force is to “take the leap and go for it”.

“The Defence Force will challenge you as an individual, but also help set yourself up for a bright and rewarding future.”

New Zealand Defence Force medics train in a tri-service environment at Defence Health School based at Burnham Military Camp.

The training takes two and half years and is a mixture of theory and practical based. They also experience on the job training at Healh Centres across Defence Force camps, ships and bases around New Zealand.

On graduating, medics are deployable and able to operate interdependently within Defence Medical Treatment Protocols.

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