Sergeant Ken Whitton’s family embodies the Anzac spirit with its commitment to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) spanning over three generations and more than 70 years. Ken’s extensive military career is drawing to a close in 2021, as he completes his transition into corporate life as a Technical Officer for Babcock Australasia’s C-CBRNE project. This Anzac Day, Ken will put on his uniform for the final time.
My military career began in 1988 when I enlisted into the Army Reserves as a Gunner in the Royal Australian Artillery (RAA). Since this time, I have served as a Bombardier in the RAA, an Electronics Technician in the Royal Australian Electronic and Mechanical Engineers (RAEME), and have been promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Today, 33 years on, I am on long service leave from the Army as I transition into a civilian career at Babcock.
My family and I have a long service history with the Australian Army. I am a third generation soldier after my father and two grandfathers. Both of my grandfathers served in World War II. One grandfather was wounded in the Middle East and medically discharged and returned to Australia with a disability. The other grandfather served in Papua New Guinea before returning to Australia then started a family with five kids. No doubt in order to feed his expanding family, he re-enlisted into the Australian Regular Army and served from 1959 to 1979.
Anzac Day has always been about family for me. It is a day when I reflect on those who have gone before, those who continue to serve, and the legacy we leave for the future. It is a day to acknowledge the hardships and sacrifices of the original Anzacs. I believe the Anzacs forged a unique sense of dedication to duty, acceptance of responsibility, and compassion for others that we all now refer to as “mateship”. I will commemorate Anzac Day by participating in the Dawn Service at Semaphore in South Australia and attending the Anzac Day March in Adelaide.
In the week following Anzac Day 2021, I will deliver a speech at my son’s primary school about the Anzac spirit and put on my uniform for the last time. Here, I will talk about how younger generations can learn from the Anzac’s experiences and follow their examples by having a sense of purpose, acceptance of responsibility, and compassion for others, while they are at school, as well as whatever else they do in their lives.
My present role at Babcock is to manage the engineering and maintenance of C-CBRNE and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) equipment on the behalf of the National Fleet Manager for the ADF. Working at Babcock means I can serve the nation by continuing to assist with maintenance, repair, engineering and capability for operational equipment for the ADF.
I am proud to serve and honoured to carry on the customs and traditions of those who gone before me as a custodian of the Anzac spirit. I feel privileged to have served and protected Australia’s interests at home and overseas throughout my career.