Babcock Australasia’s Managing Director – Aviation & Critical Services, Darren Moncrieff has a comprehensive background in Defence. Raised in a military family, with his father serving in Vietnam, Darren pursued his own career in the Royal Australian Army before making the move to industry.
Throughout my career with the Royal Australian Army, I made the most of the opportunities available for service personnel to further their qualifications and broaden their experience. I initially qualified as an infantry rifleman and served with the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR), ahead of changing corps to the Royal Australian Electrical Mechanical Engineers (RAEME) to pursue a passion for aviation engineering.
I served with various Army Aviation squadrons, both fixed and rotary wing, working on Nomad, Pilatus Porter, Kiowa and Blackhawk aircraft before being promoted to the rank of Sergeant in trade. A highlight of my defence career was a three-year posting to the 1st Recruit Training Battalion as a Recruit Instructor, a role which was a privilege and one of the most rewarding I’ve held.
When it comes to Remembrance Day, Darren takes time to reflect on the sacrifices that servicemen and women, as well as immediate and extended families, have made in the past and continue to make today.
Remembrance Day for me has morphed in meaning over the past 35 years. When I was younger, Remembrance Day was an opportunity to see all the different services of the armed forces on display. On some occasions, it coincided with a parade to watch my father and his mates from the various battalions where he served at as an Infantry soldier in The Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) on display. This was normally followed by a family day where we were able to participate in military activities including a 25-metre range shoot, a ride in Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), and running through obstacle courses. I did grow up knowing this day was to remember the fallen but, to my mind, I was recognising the efforts of those that had fallen during WWI and WWII.
Years later at the age of 18, as someone who was then serving in the Australian Army, I was old enough and a tad more mature to understand what my father and his mates had been through during their time in Vietnam with the 4th Battalion RAR and the impact that this had on the entire family.
Remembrance Day means something very different to me now. This change in meaning became evident on Remembrance Day 1987, one month after being invited by my father to attend the welcome home parade for our Vietnam veterans in Sydney during October 1987. Having just completed recruit and basic infantry training, spending that long weekend with my father and his mates was a privilege and a real revelation. I became immersed in the stories and memories (the good and bad, but mostly bad) that they had all been holding onto. This was the first time I had heard such accounts, with my father having never really opened up like this during my childhood. This really opened my eyes to the pain and suffering, not only of those who had fallen and their families, but the pain and suffering that lingers with those that return and their families long after any conflict.
This year as we mark Remembrance Day I think of a few things. Firstly, I recognise the men and women who face great danger on a daily basis serving in another country far removed from our own. Secondly, I remember the families of those who have lost a loved one and the impact this would be having on them. Thirdly, I reflect and think about the ongoing pain and suffering that remains with many returned veterans and the personal impact on them and their families.
Remembrance Day is one day where we can remind ourselves of the hardships that others before us have gone through and of the struggles that so many will continue to experience long after returning.