Marking service and sacrifice at sea

Commander Douglas Falconer briefs aviation personnel on board HMAS Adelaide before the ship begins first-of-class flight trials off the coast of Queensland earlier this month. Photo: Able Seaman Jarrod Mulvihill

Marking service and sacrifice at sea

For Senior Medical Officer Commander Douglas Falconer, Anzac Day this year will be marked at sea in HMAS Adelaide rather than at his local RSL dawn service.

While he will miss the chance to head into Sydney for the customary Anzac Day march, Commander Falconer noted that this year’s event would be a different occasion for most people.

“It will be remembered in a very different light compared to previous years, as the changes to the world that have occurred in 2020 have meant this time of reflection will have a different meaning,” he said.

Commander Falconer is the Senior Medical Adviser for Diving Medicine based at HMAS Penguin and is currently embarked in Adelaide for his specialist skills as a general practitioner and a procedural anaesthetist.

As for many others, Anzac Day is an important day of remembrance for him and his family.

“It is not only a time to reflect on those who have given their lives for their country in the past, but also to remember those former serving and currently serving and their personal sacrifices,” Commander Falconer said.

“Personally it is important to my family, for my great grandfather lost his life in WWII and my grandfather served throughout the same war in the Royal Navy.”

Those family connections were a key reason for Commander Falconer deciding to join the Royal Australian Navy while growing up in the regional NSW city of Bathurst, where he attended The Scots School.

He joined Navy in 2006 at the age of 29 and has been able to combine his desire for service with a love of medicine.

“I had always wanted to be a member of the Royal Australian Navy, as I have a proud history of family members, on both sides, serving in the Royal Navy,” he said.

“However, I wanted to join as a medical officer, where I felt I could have a significant impact while at the same time engaging in my other passion of medicine.” 

He has previously been posted as a medical officer in HMA ships Coonawarra and Stuart, and in 2017 his specialist knowledge in underwater medicine enabled him to complete an exchange program with the Vietnam People’s Armed Forces in Vietnam.

“The ability to engage in a specialty that I enjoy in an organisation that allows for travel, excitement and opportunities is something that you cannot get in the civilian world,” Commander Falconer said.

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