by Alan Greig
This year is the Centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force. As a former Squadron Leader with almost 25 years service, I trust that you will allow me to ‘spruik’ on a little about what AF2021 has been doing in preparation for this achievement. One of the activities is that the Centenary Team has been gathering stories about past and present members who have made an exceptional contribution to the Air Force.
One such member is Warrant Officer Uncle Harry Allie who enlisted in the Air Force at Townsville in 1966 and served until he was discharged in 1989. During this time he harnessed his culture and experience to help the Air Force evolve.
Being the first in a significant personal or career role is something that many of us aspire to but the first Indigenous Elder in the ADF had no such goal. It happened because a Senior Officer recognised Warrant Office Uncle Harry Allie’s leadership, humility and excellence which led to his appointment in 2012 as Indigenous Elder of the Royal Australian Air Force.
Uncle Harry was inspired to join the Air Force when, early in his life, he saw photos of his uncles and aunt in uniform at his grandmothers’s house.
Uncle Harry said, “I am a Charters Towers-born descendant of the Gudjala tribal group who are recognised as the traditional custodians in that area. I first started work with the Postmaster-General’s Department but in 1966 I enlisted in the Air Force at Townsville. It was the beginning of a wonderful career where I reached the rank of Warrant Officer before my discharge in 1989. Among my postings I was assigned to McClelland Air Force base in USA helping with the delivery of Australia’s iconic F-111C aircraft. Along the way I was awarded a Medal of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service (BEM) and was subsequently invited to be the inaugural Air Force Representative Elder.
“I am involved with committees that give recognition to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and servicewomen who served their country proudly in all conflicts in which Australia has been involved. My role as Indigenous Elder of the Air Force takes up a considerable amount of my time but during my service I felt I had gained a lot personally and achieved a tremendous amount of self confidence. This has given me the opportunity to speak with many other people who were interested in seeking a career in the services, particularly the Air Force.
“My community is proud of my achievements as someone who has come from the country and is a respected Elder across our land. It is indeed an honour to be a part of the Air Force’s 100 year commemoration joining the many others who have served and to thank them for their service.”
Uncle Harry’s work ethic remains undiminished and he continues to serve us all in this critical role, helping us understand that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are an important and valued part of the ADF.
To read more Forest Lake RSL Sub-branch articles, go here.