A day to be thankful

A day to be thankful

For one airman, Anzac Day tradition is just as much about family as it is about dawn services.

Leading Aircraftman Bryan Rowles will be part of the catafalque party in the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial on April 25.

“Normally I would do a service somewhere and afterwards a barbeque and couple of drinks with friends, but it’s also very much a family thing for me and especially this year,” Leading Aircraftman Rowles said.

“It’s a good day to talk to the kids about what it means so they understand what their Dad does and why.”

A handful of Australian Federation Guard personnel will be part of a commemorative service at the Australian War Memorial to be streamed live to the public.

“On Anzac Day I also call Grandma as she was around during the Second World War,” Leading Aircraftman Rowles said.

“Chatting about the similarities with rationing and her experiences of that era and COVID-19 restrictions is interesting and gives good perspective.”

From Toodyay, Western Australia, Leading Aircraftman Rowles joined the Royal Australian Air Force to be part of something “a bit bigger” than himself.

He trained as an aircraft structural technician and is on his second stint with the Australian Federation Guard, where the workload has changed since the COVID-19 lockdown.

“A lot of our jobs involve dignitaries that can’t visit anymore, so a lot of our usual schedule has been turned off,” Leading Aircraftman Rowles said.

“Our event board at work is empty, I’ve never seen that before.

“Training is more occasional now. It’s important to keep our skills in case we’re needed but we work in smaller groups and practise social distancing.”

He feels the Anzac spirit at work nearly every day.

“In my trade I saw drive, teamwork and connectedness in getting something accomplished, and with the Fed Guard, it’s all about teamwork and mateship,” Leading Aircraftman Rowles said.

On each Anzac Day the ode and minute’s silence have the most impact on him.

“It instantly brings to my mind pictures I’ve seen and those I’ve met from doing this job, a couple of whom have probably changed my life,” he said.

“Meeting face-to-face with those who have been in the wars has given me a real appreciation and personal connection. This has been the most rewarding part of my career.”

Both his grandfathers served during  World War II, one in 2/11 Battalion Australian Imperial Force and the other in the Citizens Military Force, and his great-grandfather died of Spanish influenza returning from World War I.

“Anzac Day is a good way to remember what’s happened and to say thank you to past and current serving members,” Leading Aircraftman Rowles said.

He was to have been in the catafalque party for the Villers-Bretonneux service in France, which was cancelled.

“It’s obviously disappointing not to go but at the same time I still get to be part of it by doing the service here,” Leading Aircraftman Rowles said.


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