Axons Unleashed E20: A Sliding Doors Moment That Could Have Changed Everything...

Welcome to another great episode of Axons Unleashed

Join us as we continue on from last week’s episode, where we found ourselves smack-bang in the middle of Robbie’s military career as he begins to take his final steps towards becoming an officer. This week he recounts more of his time in the Military with fellow commissioned officer Dane & the GM of Axon, Tamara, all that and more on this week’s episode of Axons Unleashed. 

 
 
 
 
 
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Episode Transcription 

Announcer:
Axon’s Unleashed.

Robbie:
Hey, morning ladies and gents, welcome back to Axon’s Unleashed. My name’s Robbie, I’m here with Dane and the lovely Tamara-

Tamara:
Lovely.

Robbie:
Also known as my wife.

Dane:
Nice.

Robbie:
That’s not a bad way to start.

Tamara:
All right, good start, thanks.

Dane:
Why did you get that adjective? The lovely Dane.

Robbie:
Mate, imagine if I fucking said that.

Dane:
I’d be out of here.

Tamara:
And he drops an F-bomb within, what, 20 seconds.

Robbie:
Oh yeah. For those listening for the first time, we’re pretty raw and rude. Hey, we’re on a bit of a journey at the moment, so one of the previous podcasts that you ought to listen to was all about my military career, so we had so much feedback there after doing podcast seasons one and two. People were like, “Oh, I loved hearing the backstory, I loved hearing the behind the scenes, I love knowing deeper level stuff about you guys.”

Tamara:
I think it was really interesting for me as well, because even though we’re married, we know most things about each other, it’s like the time, you call it BT, before Tammy.

Robbie:
In the year BT.

Tamara:
It’s interesting to hear that side of things, and just bouncing off the guys as well about their experience. I absolutely laughed my ass off at Dane’s recruit school advents.

Dane:
My little shortcuts, my shortcuts that didn’t become a shortcut.

Robbie:
Sleeping under the bed, fucking putting your cams on over the top of your PT rig. [crosstalk 00:01:31] Everyone listening will be like, “Oh, that’s gold, I should’ve thought of that.” If you did do it-

Dane:
Sleep on the carpet for three months, how you do. I’m actually super keen to hear a lot of it, because my first interaction I think with Robbie, I was just like [inaudible 00:01:42], “What are they like?” I’m like, “He was definitely in the army, he oozes it,” so I’m really looking forward to it.

Tamara:
When Robbie did his transition seminar, they said to him, “Oh …” Maybe you tell what they said.

Robbie:
They’re like, “All right, so everyone stand up if you’ve done five years, keep standing up if you’ve done more than 10 years, keep standing up if you did more than 15 years, keep standing up if you did more than 20 years, keep standing up if you did more than 25,” and obviously that’s when I sat down. He goes, “Right,” because there was no one else, maybe one or two other people sitting down at that stage, he goes, “Right, stand up, those last people.” A few of us stood up, he goes, “You guys, you don’t talk the same, you don’t walk the same, you don’t look the same, you don’t act the same as a normal human being, you’ve been here more than 20 years in the military.”

Tamara:
Institutionalized.

Dane:
Yeah, Shawshanked.

Tamara:
It’s so funny, because he came home and he goes, “Is that true? Do I not walk and talk the same?”

Dane:
With his tan cap.

Tamara:
I was like-

Robbie:
And my camo shorts on.

Tamara:
Oh my God, he used to wear only camo stuff on the weekends.

Dane:
Oh lord.

Tamara:
He’s come a long way, let me just say.

Robbie:
You hear this adjective “loved”, like I loved my time in the military, it was fucking me, I was a lean, green, mean fighting machine on the weekends, and obviously I work and whatever as well, and you guys are now going to learn more about how I got to that point. We finished off on the last little bit whereby I had a bit of a junction in my life, and I was going to go and be a PDI. I was at the gym all the time, I was best mates with all the PDIs, and one of the PDIs there was living with me and they were about to run a PDI course here at [Hosworthy 00:03:17].

Robbie:
Then I got booted off that course because I fucked up by getting back to [Ambily 00:03:21] late by catching a C130, and then I got dressed down hard by my boss at the time, who I fucking loved as a bloke, but he was such a hardass on me. He goes, “Right, you’re not going on the PDI course, you are now canceled from that. You’re going on exercise swift eagle 96, pack your bags, you’re fucking leaving in three days’ time.” I was devastated, I was like, “Fuck you guys, how fucking dare you do this to me?” like destructive bloody bad behavior there.

Tamara:
This is the year ’96?

Robbie:
1996, swift eagle 96. Fuck, were you born? Yeah, just.

Tamara:
Yeah, I was in year six.

Dane:
In year six, yeah.

Robbie:
You were in year six.

Dane:
Both of us.

Robbie:
Oh, true. How do you spell army?

Dane:
It’s funny when you say it, because I was thinking about that story that you said last time, missing [inaudible 00:04:05], and I was thinking about, so I went and did a course down in Richmond, there’s two C17s parked out the front. I ring up my CO, I go, “Hey, I’m going to jump on that, I’m not going to go get the plane out of the airport to come back off the course.” He’s like, “Yeah, yeah, sweet. Jump in that, I’ll see you later on this afternoon,” so I just choose one. One’s going to Ambily, the other one’s going to Perth, and which one did I get on? The Perth one.

Dane:
As we’re flying along, I’m like, “Fuck, we must be there by now.” I went and talked to the loadie, and he’s like, “Mate, we’re going to Perth, hopefully you’ve got some clean clothes,” [crosstalk 00:04:36] and I was just like … Off to beers. I get there obviously, and my CO’s like, “Where are you?” I’m like, “You’ll never guess.”

Tamara:
Did you get into the shit for that?

Dane:
Oh yeah.

Robbie:
What rank were you then?

Dane:
I was a [crosstalk 00:04:49]-

Robbie:
[crosstalk 00:04:49], oh yeah, fuck, you’re fine. Imagine doing that as a fucking corporal.

Dane:
Where’s my allowances?

Robbie:
Choose one, choose one.

Dane:
Oh God, choose one.

Robbie:
But you know what? I got to a point where I loved being a junior NCO. I guess, Dane, this is why I love having you here on these calls, it’s something very, very rare to be able to share stories about joining as a digger and getting out as an officer. At the end of the day, when you have both experiences, it’s hard to pass on. If the legend himself, Dan, was here, he’d be like, “And you fucking still don’t know what it’s like to be a junior NCO.” Yes mate, you were a corporal at fucking [Duntrune 00:05:23], but you don’t really know what it’s like to be a junior NCO. Tell us, how much did you love being a junior NCO? When you make that transition from being one of the boys and mates with everyone, to go, “Right, you’re now one of the junior leaders,” and if someone’s fucked up, you need to smack them over the knuckles and you sort it out.

Dane:
I loved being enlisted, I did, and I think it was a good change for me. Look, I’ve said it to Robbie all the time, like my mate said to me before I went off to OTS, because I’m like, “Hey man, [crosstalk 00:05:52] …”

Robbie:
Officer training school.

Dane:
Officer training school, sorry everyone.

Robbie:
It’s all right.

Dane:
I’m going to nick off and do this, and he goes, “You know dude, at the moment you’re one of many, so you always get away with all this stuff, but when you come back, you’re going to be one of one. You’re going to hold a particular position at the squadron, and being a junior officer, you’re not going to have a bunch of other ones where you just interchange, so you can’t just go MIA and do all this shit.” I was like, “Oh, that’s fucking true,” because when you-

Tamara:
Make sure you’re on the right plane.

Dane:
Yeah, because when you’re an out tech, there’s 70 of yous, and people can just come and go, “Oh, we need to go fix that IFCM out on the aircraft,” and they’d be like, “Oh, we’ll just find an out tech,” and it’s thousands, but when they’re like, “We need to find the [OPSO 00:06:26], where the fuck has he gone? Get him on the phone,” so I was like, “Oh yeah, my early marks are numbered,” but I really enjoyed it. One of the things when I was down at officer training school, you’d have this meeting at the end where they talk about, especially when you’re a commissioning airman, because you’re just different … I always say to Robbie, “You always tell a mixed bloke,” like you can tell Dan just went straight in as an officer, like the way he sort of, “Why wouldn’t you do this? Who’s going to do it?”

Dane:
I’m like, “You’re missing corporal’s, mate, that’s what you need.” When I was down there, you go and do this meeting, and they’re like, “The biggest concern we have with you when you go back into that environment is separating yourself from that,” because you’re not going to be one of the boys anymore. You’re going to be the leader at the squadron, and when they’re stepping out of line, you need to have those hard conversations. Being prepped down there for that, like every single person, the direct entries, they’re not prepping them because they come in and they’re already like, “Oh, I’m educated,” they always think they’re always elevated a little bit, but when you have commissioning airmen, it’s like you’ll learn so much from your senior NCOs, fuck, more than anyone can ever imagine.

Dane:
I think I’ve spoke about ages ago when I had a really great warrant officer, when I came back into that realm, but I loved it. I really did, because finally I could sort of take ownership of stuff. I thought like all those little nuances that don’t get through, like I’m speaking for the lads, like I can come into a meeting and say, “Hey, we need X, Y and Z to get this done.” I found myself being that conduit, but I relished it, mate.

Robbie:
During the next podcast, I’ll talk about my transition into being an officer, but in short, I found myself part of the decision making process, not just the decision doing process, so that was really, really cool. But yeah, being a junior NCO is like a bit of a trial period for that, really. I loved being a junior NCO, it was fucking awesome, like that’s when I really, really started to love the army a lot, and I was really, really fortunate to be given plenty of responsibility. Certainly one of those harsh responsibilities was in choosing to get into [Kapuka 00:08:22].

Robbie:
You guys remember the story I told, I was on the phone crying to my mom as a young 17-year-old back in 1990, fucking SLR and greens literally, hating my time at Kapuka? Then I’ve got a fucking big kick up the ass, and eventually got it sorted out, and I loved being there. In December ’98, I got posted, so I finished jumping through our RNA battery, ’96, ’97, ’98 as an FO out there, and then calling in all the joint fires and mortars in aircraft, et cetera, et cetera was a really cool job, like fucking playing a video game every day, really, just going to Singleton, going to [Parkay 00:08:55], going to high range and just bombing up shit, just blowing up shit with guns, aircraft, mortars, helicopters, et cetera.

Robbie:
Then I got chosen to go down to then in Kapuka, and then I went and did my recruit instructor training course. I was like, “This is going to be great. I remember what it was like to be a 17-year-old, those fuckers just yelled at me for like fucking three months at a time.” The course had been reduced so it was only six weeks now, so we had to cram everything into six weeks.

Tamara:
What was it originally?

Robbie:
Three months. It’s waxed and waned in my understanding over the last 20 years, I think it’s actually back to three months again now, but they’ve got their phones on them the whole time now. There was no fucking mobile phones back then, even when I went there as an instructor in ’98. You might’ve had a big fucking brick phone, like fucking Sherlock Holmes bloody sort of shit-

Tamara:
I think the last I heard was on Sundays, they get their phones.

Dane:
We got that you had 30 minutes of phone a week, and they locked it up in this thing, whereas now they have them all the time, apparently.

Robbie:
Yeah. I remember having to ring, back in the old day, like double-oh-double-one, I would wish to make a reverse charge phone call. I didn’t have any fucking money back … This was a recruit-

Tamara:
Did your mom always accept?

Robbie:
Yeah, of course. Going in to Kapuka to do my recruit instructor development course was … Fucking unlock phone, there you go, it’s me, I promise. I had to just make some notes last night, because I’m like, “Fuck, don’t forget about this, and don’t forget about this,” because there was a fucking fair few things I did right.

Tamara:
And it was a while ago.

Robbie:
You’re right, it was. We’re talking, this is now 1999 when I did my first platoon, in January 1999, I was just yelling for three days straight, “Get your arm up, press into the rears, get over here! Boom boom boom boom boom!” Then after day three, I couldn’t fucking talk, like I lost my voice. I’m like, “All right …”

Tamara:
That’ll teach you.

Robbie:
“I need to find a better way that I can motivate, inspire, and get these young recruits to do shit, and not fucking lose my voice in the meantime.” You certainly do moderate the way that you speak to people, and yelling at people all the time is not the best way of getting them to do their job. There’s recruits now that I put through Kapuka, fuck, many, many years ago that are on my Facebook now, and we’re mates and they’re all out, like it’s really, really cool to know that I fucking put through the ringer … I used to mentor the fuck out of them, I guess I used to do to them what wasn’t done for me, “Just fucking do it, don’t ask any questions.”

Robbie:
I used to hate that, I’m like, “No, no, if you give people a reason why and explain the importance and just the effort that they need to put towards it, you’ll find that they’re onboard so much more.”

Tamara:
That’s such a lesson for leadership in any area. You think about that as managers, as business owners, as leaders anywhere really, if you are passing on information to the team, if you pass on why that’s such a big importance and how the ripple effect of that affects other areas of the business … For instance, perhaps one of our coaches writing notes in our CRM, that can pass on down the track to other people that are picking up that client. It could be the smallest amount of detail, but it could help them later on.

Tamara:
It’s that lack of information, lack of passing it on that has such a ripple effect, but as soon as people know, “Okay, this is going to cause effects later on, or this is going to have that ripple effect,” people make more of an effort and go, “Oh, got it.”

Dane:
Yeah, they do for sure. Great credit to you too, Robbie, like you always get people who go back into an instructor role and they’ve gone through 15 years earlier, and they try and replicate what happen then, where they’re just like blasting people and so on and so forth. You guys always say it, which I like, “We’re not the keeper of all the bright ideas, speak up,” and they have the thing like in the [RAF 00:12:41], they talk about bottom-up innovation, like they want people to talk up. Throw up ideas-

Tamara:
Same as Qantas.

Dane:
Yeah, so that people can sit there and go, “All right, let’s analyze this. Is this good or this is bad?” Because you don’t just want [inaudible 00:12:51] all the time.

Robbie:
Top-down direction, we used to call it bottom-up refinement, refinement of the direction sort of thing, certainly the innovations.

Dane:
Innovation.

Robbie:
Yeah, it is.

Dane:
Here we are, diverting.

Tamara:
Getting fancy.

Robbie:
I loved it down at Kapuka, won a footie grand final down there, reminded me of country footie back in [Port Peery 00:13:11]. Come 12:30, the streets are dead, everyone’s at the oval, cars parked around, tooting on the horn, bloody running out.

Dane:
You would love that.

Robbie:
It was really, really good. I did, I absolutely loved it there. It was an all corps environment as well, so in the army, I just went to artillery. As a young guy, I was just fucking with the majors, the captains, the sergeants, the warrant officers, the bombardiers, so I went there as a bombardier, which is pretty cool. Remember that story I told, when that other guy was like, “I wonder what corps I’m going to go to,” I’m like, “My name’s Bombardier [Kraut 00:13:39], this is why I’m …” I’m like, “Fuck, that’s a cool sounding name, I want to go do that.” Guess what? Fucking fast-forward like 11 years later, I was back there as bombardier Turner.

Dane:
Were you always in Sydney prior to this, then going back to [Wogga 00:13:51]?

Robbie:
Yeah, just to Sydney, did eight and a half years in Sydney.

Dane:
I know from my experience, I was on the Gold Coast, and I was like, “Wogga, where the fuck is that?” I looked it up, and I was like, “Oh man,” and then I had to do tech training there, so I was there for two years. It’s funny, I remember when I came back for Christmas, so I drove up, had the three week stand down, up here milling about, and I remember getting incredibly frustrated with the traffic, just going like, “Ah man, Gold Coast is so busy!”

Tamara:
The Gold Coast traffic?

Dane:
Then I’m like, “I can’t wait to get back down to Wogga,” I was like, “What am I saying right now?”

Tamara:
Oh my gosh.

Dane:
Where it takes you two minutes [inaudible 00:14:24], I didn’t mind it.

Tamara:
Whereas I think Gold Coast traffic’s amazing, because I’ve grown up in Sydney.

Robbie:
Sydney, yeah.

Dane:
Shocking.

Robbie:
I used to have this little store like out the front of Wogga that used to say, “Welcome to Wogga-Wogga, population 56,000,” or whatever, just coming on the bloody highway, and I’m sure it’s more than that now, but what I also should’ve said is like, “And turn your clock back 20 years.” As it is with all small country towns, I suppose, when I say small country town, it’s still rather large but it fucking ain’t Sydney and it ain’t Gold Coast.

Tamara:
I think it’s come a long way since you were there too.

Robbie:
Yeah, no doubt. For instance, I guess when you’re used to that rigid, very straight line command structure, my platoon commander was medical corps, my platoon sergeant was engineer corps, I had another engineer as a fellow recruit instructor, an ordinance guy, an infantry guy, and me. It was a bit of a mixed bag there as far as that goes, but it was really cool, same same. I’ve got young corporals and other bombardiers that I was at Kapuka with back in the day, they’re all now like fucking tier two, tier three RSMs. Not all, there’s probably three or four that are still in, but they were-

Dane:
It would’ve been a good learning environment for them though, having such a vast amount of leadership there from different areas in the army.

Robbie:
Yeah. I’ve got probably three or four clients over the last couple of years that have now bounced in and out of Wogga, and they’re like, “Oh, it looks like I’m going to go down to bloody Kapuka next year.” I’m like, “Bro, you’re going to fucking love it. Embrace the fact that you can now talk to other people in other corps, and get to know what the wider army does, because as you go up the ranks and be a senior NCO, you’re going to need to know you can’t just be in that bloody silo of your specific corps or trade, you’ve got to understand what the bigger picture is.”

Dane:
Because they are training, I think people identify with that, they’re like, “I don’t want to go back down there, because it was like 30-centimeter folds and all the shit stuff they had to do,” so they’re just like, “Ah, I just couldn’t …” But when they go back and they’re in a different realm like Robbie did, like being able to put in an impact and make changes would’ve been [crosstalk 00:16:14].

Tamara:
Wasn’t it funny a couple of months ago, Robbie, when we were down in Sydney at the airport, we ran into a client who’s an instructor?

Robbie:
Young BJ.

Tamara:
Yeah.

Robbie:
I’m talking to him and Chloe tonight, actually.

Tamara:
He was waiting for a bunch of recruits to turn up, and we were chatting away, and then suddenly a young guy turned up with his hat on backwards, and he flipped around and said, “Get your hat off.” I even went, “Oh God,” like just the tension there. Then as they marched past us while waiting for the taxi, they’re walking past with their suitcases, and I just said, “Oh my God, you can feel the tension in the air, they are shitting themselves.” Even you said, “Oh God, I can even feel that. I know what they’re in for, and I can feel it.”

Robbie:
I remember what it was like when I was them, and I remember what it was like when I was one of the bombardiers who used to go and pick them up from the airport as well.

Tamara:
He was way in front of them, he’s like, “Hurry up!”

Robbie:
Oh yeah, “Hurry up, let’s go! Move it, move it!”

Dane:
“Hurry up, but don’t run!” I just remember hearing that all the time. When you do it, you go and you sort of swear in. We would go to the Brisbane airport, so as I went through DFR down at [Cullengutta 00:17:15], so I go up there, swear in, everyone’s there, and it’s fucking photos all around and everyone’s really proud. Go to the airport, and they had this RAF who takes you who works at the DFR in Brisbane, takes you up there and makes sure everyone gets on the plane. We go up there, and I’m sort of talking to her, she goes, “Well, you’re a bit older, mate, just remember, just keep your head down and just roll with the punches, because just remember, this is just one step in your whole career in the air force, so don’t let this define what you think it’s all about.”

Dane:
Then some dude had his glasses on his head, and then he was late for the plane, and he was one of the guys enlisting. She said to me, she goes, “Don’t worry mate, he’ll take all the heat when you get down there.” We get down there, we’re all getting our fucking bags and we’re all walking out, “Get in a line,” and all like this, “And get your bloody sunnies off your head!” Then I looked over, and it was, “Oh, mate.” I’m like, “Yes, thank God this guy’s on my course.”

Tamara:
When we saw the guys walking past, that guy had quickly removed his hat.

Dane:
You’d shit your pants.

Tamara:
We were like, “Oh, the hat’s gone.”

Robbie:
But it was good seeing BJ, because he was one of the guys who were like, “Oh, I’m going to go to Kapuka next year,” I’m like, “Fuck, you’re going to love it,” and then fast-forward six months and we’ve seen him. I said, “How you going, man?” he goes, “It’s the best, I love it,” I said, “Yeah, I thought you would.” Back then, we used to have drill wing, field wing and weapons wing, so I got allocated after I did my recruit structure training course, so I got allocated as a drill corporal, effectively drill instructor, so highest levels of dress and bearing, fucking ironing and starching the fuck out of my cams all the time, spit polished bloody black boots every day, black belt, brass, everything.

Robbie:
I loved that sort of true idea of being a drill instructor somewhere, so it was good. By the time I did my [SUB1 00:18:50] for sergeant at the end of the year, where they do a lot of drill, a lot of color drill and flag drill and everything, fuck, it was a breeze. I knew the drill pattern down pat, I knew the sequence of how to give a lesson. I remember we had this one chick in my section, she was a pay clerk, a pay corporal who fucking went through Kapuka 12 years ago and never even gone out on parade to have her name called since then, and now here she was on a SUB1 for sergeant, fucking trying to give a drill lesson.

Tamara:
Poor thing.

Robbie:
I gave her a lot of assistance, actually. I got her through that course, because she would not have fucking done it otherwise.

Dane:
Isn’t that forms part of your … Is it [PMET 00:19:26], do they call it PMET in the army, like your promotional-

Robbie:
Please explain.

Dane:
Please explain?

Robbie:
Yeah. Pauline, what the fuck does PMET mean?

Tamara:
What’s that mean?

Dane:
It’s when you’re through, you need to go do certain courses at your rank before you’re eligible then to promote, it was called PME.

Tamara:
A promotion course.

Dane:
PME, PMET, whatever.

Robbie:
Oh, professional military [crosstalk 00:19:47] education training. I know what that stands for, but that’s not what we refer [crosstalk 00:19:50] to in the military, it’s just called fucking make yourself better.

Tamara:
Didn’t you just call them promotion courses?

Robbie:
Yeah, promotion courses. There’s an army training continuum and an officer training continuum, same sort of thing. It was good though, I knew I was on my way to being a senior NCO. It was only my fourth year as a junior NCO, and eventually I’m like, “Right, cool,” I knew I was going to get promoted to sergeant and then head on out to Townsville. It was good, I really, really loved my time down in Wogga, and certainly getting up to Townsville, and I marched into a unit then that was called [Fourfield 00:20:22] regiment. It is known as the most regimented, hard nosed fucking tip of the spear, we’re three brigade, we’ve got one RER, we’ve got three RER up here, like we’re always the first to go, light infantry sort of stuff.

Robbie:
It was very, very easy for me to be walking around there and go, “Oi, get your bends out of your elbows, arms at the waist, [inaudible 00:20:42],” like it was good. People were like, “Who is this motherfucker?” I’m like, “Ah, that’s our new sergeant Turner, he just finished being a real drill instructor down at Kapuka.” It was good though. What about you, mate? You only did the one set of postie, didn’t you? You were out at Ambily.

Dane:
Right, I was an Ambily connoisseur in the end. I think I kept very quiet when I first started at Axon, because the boys were all, especially like I got Dan and Tim, so they’re talking about the rigamarole of their postie, and then they’re like, “Ah, Adelaide,” and I was at Townsville and Darwin, I’m Mr. NT and all this other shit. I was like, “Oh yeah, yeah,” while I was incessantly negating that.

Tamara:
You’re like, “Ambily.”

Dane:
I was just going like enlisted Wogga, and then I was straight up to Ambily, got a back to back posting there, then I commissioned so I was down off to training school, splattering of courses, obviously a bunch of exercises, some trips and stuff in between, got reposted back up-

Tamara:
To Ambily?

Dane:
To Ambily, and then I got a lateral posting again. I remember speaking to the streamer, and I was like, “Mate, I’m going to try and go for anther …” I was like, “I’ll be fucking 15 years, and I’ve never left the base.” Then he’s reading it and he’s like, “You’ve commissioned,” and he goes back and he goes, “Oh, I see commission here,” and he goes, “You did six years fucking there before you even commissioned.” I was like, “Yeah, so do you reckon I’ll get another posting here?” He was like, “No way, mate. You’re gone, you are gone.” I’m like, “You’re gone? I’m gone.” [crosstalk 00:22:05]

Robbie:
I was going to say, so if you hadn’t have found Axon and you were up for posting at the end of that year-

Dane:
They would’ve posted me.

Robbie:
And then that would’ve been-

Tamara:
Where were they talking?

Robbie:
A fork in the road for you, yeah?

Dane:
I think Canberra. Yeah, all roads lead to Canberra, [crosstalk 00:22:16] you know what I mean?

Tamara:
Robbie loved Canberra, I’m not a huge fan, but I only would visit on weekends.

Robbie:
It’s not that bad.

Tamara:
It’s a very quiet little place on weekends.

Dane:
It’s more just the family dynamic of being away, so in stepped you guys and remedied all that, which was good.

Robbie:
We’ll talk about our Canberra trip down the track.

Tamara:
Sure, no good in winter, no good.

Robbie:
Fuck no, it’s frozen. Rocked up to Townsville, this was the year 2000 really, so I was up there-

Dane:
The millennial.

Robbie:
Went to, I was in-

Tamara:
The Olympics.

Robbie:
Yeah, the Olympics as well, but Townsville is a long way from Sydney, so you don’t really care about the Olympics, it’s too far away. I went and spent New Year’s Eve with a good mate of mine, I put the [inaudible 00:23:00] in Cairns actually, so I knew I was going back to Townsville, he goes-

Tamara:
Dancing on the tables?

Robbie:
“Oh, I’ll fly out there,” dancing on the tables, and bloody … Yeah. We saw the 2000s come up there, and lucky all the lights still worked and my watch didn’t explode, et cetera.

Tamara:
Oh yeah, the Y2K bug.

Robbie:
The Y2K bug. I was living in the sergeant’s mess lines, because I was just bloody single dingle back then, so it was just good to live in, like these are the old bloody-

Tamara:
The what, sun’s?

Robbie:
The sergeant’s mess lines.

Dane:
Sergeant’s mess lines, on base.

Tamara:
I thought you said Sons and Lions, I’m like, “Are we talking about AFL?” No.

Robbie:
Sorry, I just went with it.

Dane:
I like the single dingle, that’s pretty good, that.

Robbie:
Yeah, [crosstalk 00:23:40]. Mate, I was, but it was good, mess life is great, you just fucking walk out of your room, go down to the end there, the cooks are there, they’ll make you bloody breakfast, lunch, dinner, everything’s included, sit down, watch the bloody TV, like it was really, really cool.

Dane:
They’ve lost the [ALUA 00:23:54], let’s be honest. Like [crosstalk 00:23:55]-

Robbie:
That’s because it’s all combined mess now, but we had our own mess back then, so it was just the Fourfield regiment.

Tamara:
Fancy.

Robbie:
Yeah, it was good, it’s just good to get to know the warrant officers in a bit more of a relaxed mode. I had a very different relationship with the RSM, but same again, still really good mates with him on Facebook at the moment, it’s good to see everyone do their stuff. Killer, if you’re listening, so thanks for all your mentoring back in those days, mate, as a young … What was I? Fuck, what was that? I was only a 28-year-old senior NCO, so I’d only been in like 11 and a bit years, so I was still [crosstalk 00:24:30] quite young as far as that goes, just doing my thing.

Robbie:
Then I went straight up there as a gun sergeant, so I hadn’t been on the gun line since I was a lanch jack in ’95, now here we were, 2000, but it was good to step back into that gun line stuff. Do you remember that gun line sergeant story I was saying last week? He was just fucking militant, “Just do stuff, be excellent at your job,” just a bit rah rah rah, so it was really good to step back into the room and I had my own bombardier, had my own lance bombardier and five other guys on the guns, so it was just organized chaos, I suppose.

Dane:
Loved it.

Robbie:
That competition on the gun line, as soon as you get that word to move or the order to move to the next position, you pack everything down and bloody get back on the truck and then get out of there, and it’s first one off and first one on. It’s a very, very competitive environment, very cutthroat environment, and I loved it. It was just fucking, that’s when the army was really oozing out of me, like I was loving every bit of it. It was good, I suppose.

Tamara:
Dane, would you have picked that, competitive nature? Geez.

Dane:
Where does it come from, army oozing out of him?

Tamara:
Couldn’t tell.

Dane:
And still.

Robbie:
Does the RAF have gung-ho senior NCOs that they just fucking love their job and love their … I’m sure there are.

Dane:
Absolutely, mate, there is. Being in a technical workforce that I was in, you have … Ours isn’t regimented in there, like when you’re going through different stages, because you don’t want that especially when you’re fixing aircraft, the last thing you need is someone just taking blind faith in somebody else’s decisions. Because with that [crosstalk 00:26:11]-

Tamara:
For the safety.

Dane:
Yeah, that split pin that went down in the navy, like the amount of stuff that come off the back of that because of all the shit that happened where they went out … I actually used to work with a guy, he works for Boeing, so Boeing is integrated with you when you work there, like as Robbie and I sit together upstairs, I could be sitting with a Boeing guy. We could go out, we could be troubleshooting, we could be doing all this sort of stuff. We had a guy who was an ex-chief petty officer, and he was down there at that time, and you should see this guy.

Dane:
You’d go out to the plane, there’s no power applied to the aircraft, and he’s going, “Let’s go pull the circuit breakers.” I’m like, “What the fuck are you talking about? There’s no power. Maybe it’s the lightning strikes that would get some power,” and he goes like, “No, mate,” like he’s just so by the book. It very much changed, that everyone was very like you would question it if anything was wrong, and it was just a different environment. I liked it, because where before you were, “Hey, sergeant flight, like you had to call by rank, you get in there and first thing you do, you walk in and you’d be like, “Hi sergeant, I’m [AC Roach 00:27:11], I’m coning to you from fucking training,” and they’ll be like, “Just call me Rob,” and you’re like, “What? [crosstalk 00:27:19]”

Tamara:
That would never happen in the army, right?

Robbie:
Not in the regular army. In SOCOM it did a lot, and we’ll get to that in some of the later episodes.

Dane:
It was just that environment, whereas when you go into ADGs, no, like the CHGs. I went into that sort of realm, and then you’d find yourself sometimes, like you’d be down there doing your weapons handling test, and you’d fall into it. You’d call like, “Oh, flight …” and they’ll be like, “It’s flight sergeant!” because of the ADG down there, so they’re a lot more militant. You have different sort of sections, whereas-

Robbie:
ADG is like the army version, the Air Defense Guards are the army version of the RAF, [crosstalk 00:27:52] commonly known as [RAFSAS 00:27:53], isn’t it?

Tamara:
RAFSAS.

Robbie:
The RAFSAS.

Dane:
They’re not RAFSAS, but I definitely know what you’re saying.

Robbie:
No, but they’re [crosstalk 00:28:00] the link between Air Defense Guards, as they’ve got nothing to do with aircraft, they’re there to protect the ground around the air force, around the air fields.

Dane:
You find there’s a lot of, like so we’d have different FAGs, so there’s six of them-

Robbie:
Force element groups.

Dane:
It’s like departments.

Robbie:
I’m on it, mate.

Dane:
Kind of like we have at work-

Robbie:
Acronym, brevity and clarity, [crosstalk 00:28:21] I knew exactly what you meant.

Tamara:
Oh my God, the amount of acronyms.

Dane:
[inaudible 00:28:23] support fly, we could pretend they’re FAGs, right?

Robbie:
Yeah.

Dane:
Underneath that combat support group is closely aligned with the army, they do a lot of stuff with the army. We always joke they’re not part of us, we call them the army reserve to them, you know, “Oh, I see you chose the army reserve, right?” They’re like, “Oh, fuck off,” but they go and do it for the yield, and they do all these things which just does not happen for the other five FAGs, because it’s all air power. Surveillance groups, combat heavy air lift, all those other elements that are directly related with that, whereas ADGs form part of that CSG element. I guess for me-

Tamara:
What’s CSG?

Robbie:
Combat support group.

Dane:
Combat support group.

Tamara:
Sorry, yes.

Robbie:
Field for those guys is like the [Macua 00:29:04].

Dane:
And we’re the Shangri-La.

Tamara:
“Room service.”

Robbie:
That’s good, man. I know that you got some ripper junior NCOs and senior NCOs in the RAF, just to keep everything on point.

Dane:
Oh yeah, they definitely do, and there’s a lot of smart people you find, there definitely are. One thing is, you’ll find that especially in that technical workforce, because you do work so closely with contractors, you get a lot of poaching happening, being able to retain the better performing personnel is fucking difficult, because if you’re bombing and you’re working with 10 RAFies and you’re like, “Man, that guy is worth every fucking penny, he’s awesome,” then suddenly there’s an offer, another 30 grand on top of what they get, they could stay on location. There’s a lot of pluses for people, so you find they go up and out. I know they’re trying to remedy that, but there you get some fucking awesome dudes.

Robbie:
With some extra retention benefits and everything in there. You can still go to the same workplace, don’t have to worry about the bloody DVDA hanging over your head, and then you can go there and earn more money.

Dane:
It’s good.

Robbie:
Mate, I loved living up in Townsville, that was where I did my northern posting up there, you’ve got the strand, you’ve got the sea view, great bunch of mates. People used to say to me, “Hey, what’s Townsville like?” I’m like, “It’s fucking good weather for drinking piss,” like it’s just great.

Dane:
It is.

Robbie:
Because obviously it’s really warm-

Tamara:
I’m sure you said that still in Canberra too though.

Robbie:
No. Well, I wasn’t drinking red wine back then because I was still quite young, in my late 20s and early 30s, I hadn’t started drinking red by then.

Dane:
He was a soldier, not an officer yet.

Robbie:
With my FO or FORD observer background as I did for three years, ’96, ’97, ’98, I transitioned out of the gun line and moved into what’s called the [BCZAC 00:30:52], which is the battery commander’s assistant. I was the sergeant looking after the battery commander’s role there, and then he was in charge of all the FOs, that was my role. We’re talking about joint firepower coordination and sort of external liaison, bigger picture all the time about what’s going on, so that was really, really cool.

Robbie:
There was one guy, I can’t remember his name, in the lead up to this I was trying to remember his name, he was the RAP sergeant, he worked down in where you fucking go get your medical shit sorted. That was the technical term for RAP, your medical shit … What was his fucking name? Anyway, I said, “Mate, I haven’t seen you for ages, what are you doing?” He goes, “Oh, I’ve just finished doing my testing for ASWOCS,” I was like-

Tamara:
What’s ASWOCS?

Robbie:
That’s what I said to him, “What’s ASWOCS?” He goes, “That’s when you commission from sergeant to captain,” I’m like, “What the fuck are you talking about?” He goes, “Yeah, there’s this new scheme that you can come in,” this is like 2001, 2002, there’s this-

Dane:
And you’re in [crosstalk 00:31:48]-

Robbie:
There’s this new scheme that can come, where you can go so you don’t have to go to Duntrune, you don’t have to put yourself through. He goes, “Nah man, fucking you can go straight from sergeant to captain.” I was like, “Mother fuck, why haven’t I heard this before?” Because remember, I told that story last time when one of my troop commanders pulled me aside when I was a digger, and he was like, “Man, you should go to fucking Duntrune, you’re kicking ass here.” I’m like, “Fuck that, I don’t want to become an officer, I fucking love being a fucking enlisted guy. I love being a soldier, I don’t want to fucking be one of you.”

Robbie:
Fast-forward like 10 years after I’d been to Kapuka, loving senior NCO life, I’m like, “Oh, this is fucking, this could be …” Because as the battery commander’s assistant, I would be like the link and I would be speaking to all the captain FOs about, “Okay, here’s your next set of orders, here’s where you’re moving to, here’s the restart plan, this is what we need to achieve, like boom boom boom boom boom.” That’s when that first little antenna thing, I’m wondering, “How am I going to explain that?” That’s certainly what happened, that was my first exposure as far as that goes.

Tamara:
What’s ASWOC?

Robbie:
Sorry, I forgot. It’s Army Senior NCO and Warrant Officer Commissioning Scheme. It used to be called AWOCS, Army Warrant Officer Commissioning Scheme, but then they included, they were like, “Right, we’re getting all these fucking crusty pricks that have been here 30 years,” and they’re like, “Oh fuck, there’s no more fucking jobs for me, so I’ll just fucking commission across to be a captain, and I’ll fucking do an extra five years and then I’ll get out even crustier,” more crusty.

Tamara:
That’s so politically correct, oh God.

Robbie:
Right? Then they’re like, “Right, let’s see if we can get some senior NCOs. They’re younger, they’re more motivated, they’re going to stay longer, they’re going to bring a different capability.” I was like, “That’s fucking right up my alley.” Very, very shortly after that, I deployed on my first trip, so we went across to [Optanneger 00:33:36] and Timor, so we went across with the [2REI 00:33:39] headquarters group. When the headquarters go, they take their BCs group with them as well, so each of the FOs got rebranded into [inaudible 00:33:49] affairs officers, my battery commander was the civil military liaison officer, and then I was his civil military affairs assistant.

Robbie:
Same deal, just working in a big battle group headquarters there, got to see all the different capabilities and bigger picture stuff, et cetera, et cetera, and that’s when I was like, “I’m going to go to these fucking orders groups and I’m going to learn how to be an officer. I’m going to watch how they act, I’m going to watch how they learn, I can see the different types of questions they ask.” That’s when it really, really started to germinate for me as far as that goes. Got back from that [Enable zero-two 00:34:17], my BC at the time, [Stu Kenney 00:34:21], great leader, awesome, awesome guy, he’s like, “Yep, we’re definitely going to support this.”

Robbie:
He wrote up all the paperwork, gave it to the CO, bang, and that’s when I got accepted to commence my testing anyway. I got to do a whole year’s worth of testing, [inaudible 00:34:35] look at all your different reports over the last couple of years, had to go and do like a literate test, writing test, essay test, fucking blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, and then it sort of culminated in mid-2003 with the officer selection board. You would’ve did an officer selection board, did you?

Dane:
Yeah.

Robbie:
Yeah, tell us about that.

Dane:
[ROSB 00:34:53], so same thing, like so I was there going, “Look, I’m …” Fuck, I can’t remember what I was at time, 31? No, I was a bit older than that, probably like 33, or whatever it was. I was like, “I can stay in this …” I relished being an airman, but like so when the [ARYs 00:35:09] came out saying, “Look, you can apply and there’s all these different, you can be officer or PCO or whatever, you can go for pilot and all this sort of stuff, but you need to have like …” Because I’ve got my glasses, so I knew that was not going to be, and you had to be at a certain age group as well, they won’t take you if you’re over 35, and I was like, “Oh, I’m probably cutting it too fine to try and go for anything like that.”

Dane:
I was like, “Well, officer is great,” because you’re a part of the day-to-day operations and forward planning, and so on and so forth. I put in, so they called it paper boards, the first thing is you put in like an essay, how you meet all the selection criteria and so and so forth, what you bring to it. You put that in, all your supporting documents, they’ll go through that, then they’ll go through three years of your PARs, so your performance reviews that you get each year from your superiors.

Dane:
They go through them and make sure that you have been, because there’s a box there that says, “Could you see this guy commissioning later on?” that it’s ticked, and make sure that you’re getting all sevens and everything like that. I had really good, obviously, PARs, did that, came through and they said, “Yep, you’ve been selected, you’re going to fly down to Harmon down in Canberra, and you’ll be doing your day testing.” I was like, “Okay, cool,” so I go down there, and it was the same thing.

Dane:
It’s very time constrained, so you get in, you’ll sit down, and they go like, “We’ll give you a topic, it’s plan Jericho,” which is us trying to move to the fifth generation air force, “You’ve got 20 minutes to write an essay, go, and it’s on this.” I’m smashing this down, and then they go, “All right, sweet,” they come in, they go, “You’ve got 15 minutes now, and we’ll give you a new topic. How can you see the squadron that you’re in making steps towards them taking out plan Jericho’s action on the commanders and tech and so on and so forth?” I’m like, “Sweet,” so I write this fucking thing and then get up, and you present it. Then at the end-

Robbie:
Sounds very familiar, that’s really cool.

Dane:
Yeah. At the end when you sit down, they come in and say, “Hey, look, we’re going to recommend you that you are put up.” They came and said that, and I said, “I’d love to know why the essay, and why you would have that,” and they said, “Well, you’ll be surprised how many people cannot do grammar and spelling and all that sort of stuff, and it’s a lot of the younger generation, realistically, and I wanted to see that you could talk.” I think it-

Tamara:
Especially being handwritten, because-

Dane:
Handwritten, that’s [crosstalk 00:37:16]-

Tamara:
When we’re doing our things on text messages or emails and the spell check, everything like that, I’ve had to put Grammarly on a few of our team members’ computers just to pick up on stuff like that, because it is kind of a dying skill, to be honest. I’d hate to think the teenagers of this era-

Dane:
Imagine the stuff they would read. They say that the younger generations are terrible at it, to be honest, but you find the older guys and gals are really good at it. The other thing is, as soon as your finish your oral presentation, they go, “All right, put your cards down, sit down,” and then they hammer into the board. You’ll have a psych, you’ll have a board representative, and then you’ll have an [SME 00:38:02] for the field that you’re going into, and they just fire questions at you, and you do that for about an hour and a half.

Tamara:
What kind of questions, just random?

Dane:
They ask a lot of leadership questions, like, “You’re in this situation, what would you do? You’re on an island, these are your five things, which one would you take?” and all this, just stuff like that to see that … Because obviously, your next step is commissioning, and going down and being in an environment where it’s completely different to being told what to do, a lot of it is problem solving. I did pretty well with it all, like I’m usually pretty good at thinking on my feet in scenarios like that, so I found I actually enjoy that process, but it’s lengthy, hey Robbie?Oh yeah, there’s a whole year of testing, and every session is cutthroat. You don’t get there through that gate, you’re out.

Dane:
Boom.

Robbie:
Straightaway.

Dane:
And they just stop you.

Tamara:
I have to say, that’s very similar to Qantas, when I was going through the Qantas application. The first couple, there’s like a phone interview, then you get invited to a group interview, you’ve got to sit in a table of 10 and do problem solving, then you go in front of a panel, then you go into a one-on-one and they ask you, again, leadership questions, then you’ve got to do your medical, then you’ve got to do ground school. That whole process took well over six months with me.

Dane:
It’s funny, and that’s probably something that I wasn’t really prepped for, so when you first get into it, you go in for your day and there’s five other people with you. You go in, they sit five seats, and they’ve got the three board representatives there, and they go, you’ll love this, Robbie, they go, “All right everyone, I’m going to point to you, jump up, give us two minutes about your background because we’re all commissioning airmen. We’re not direct entries, obviously they’re going through DFR.”

Dane:
The first bloke, they go, “You’ve got two minutes,” first bloke jumps up and he’s like, “Oh, so I was at school and my dad was in the RAF, and then I joined and I’m doing this.” Anyway, so mate, he didn’t even get past, he was still in AC, and they’re like, “Two minutes is up, sit down.” He’s like, “But I …” Then he’s like, “Adhere to timing,” so I was like, “Shit, I’m going to make sure mine’s in …” I just got up, I done like 30 seconds.

Robbie:
I heard you do your best work in 30 seconds.

Dane:
I am, probably 10.

Robbie:
Great, so perfect, mate. Actually, I’ll come back to my officer selection board, I just thought of something really important that happened as well. There’d been five other warrant officers of the highest caliber senior NCOs and warrant officers in the whole artillery corps that had commissioned over the last 18 months. I looked up at these guys, these guys were like senior bombardiers when I first joined the corps, like they were six, seven, eight years ahead of me easily, and they were the fucking best of the best, and all these five guys got through.

Robbie:
None of them had tried to do it as a senior NCO, they’d all got promoted to warrant officer first, so they’d done their SUB1 for warrant officer, done all their subject courses from a technical perspective to get to that point, so they were far more qualified, just far more capable than me. Because I was going through my testing and I hadn’t been accepted yet, I went down and did my SUB4 for warrant officer, so I did my first technical trade course as a warrant officer, because I was all, “If I’m not going to get selected, I’m just going to be a warrant officer. I’ve still got good things to do down the track there.”

Robbie:
I remember the sergeant-major in charge of gunnery on that course there, and he wasn’t one of the ones who commissioned across, but four of his mates did, and they were always the peak body of fucking prima donna corporals, prima donna sergeants and the best warrant officers in the corps. This guy was down there at the school of artillery, and he was always a grumpy sergeant-major [crosstalk 00:41:28], he was always, always a really, really grumpy bastard, and he’s like, [inaudible 00:41:37] “Sergeant Turner, I need to see you in my office now!” I was like, “Fuck, I don’t remember doing anything wrong, like he is fucking really, really angry, like overly angry.”

Tamara:
Uh-oh.

Robbie:
Sure enough, fucking marching across the bloody thing there, actually I had to go meet him in the sergeant’s mess, and he sat me down at the back of the sergeant’s mess, he’s like, “Right-O, Robin,” is what he used to [crosstalk 00:41:58], he goes, “Robin, I hear you’re three-quarters of the way through your officer training. Why the fuck are you going to be an officer for? We need you to be a warrant officer. Mate, this is not fucking happening. I’m telling you now, mate, fucking pull out of it, I don’t want you to fucking go and do this.”

Robbie:
I said to him, “I’m sorry sir, we’re like fucking way down the track, I’ve got my officer selection board in another few weeks’ time. I’m just going to go down there and have a crack. I’m probably not going to get through and everything’s going to be fine.” He goes, “Why should I even keep you on this course? If you’re just going to jump ship and go and be an officer, you don’t even deserve to do the rest of this course. Why don’t you just fuck off now?” sort of thing.

Tamara:
Wow.

Robbie:
I’m like, “Me getting through is probably pretty thin chance of that happening, so I’ll let you know at the end. At least then if I don’t get through, then at least now you’ve got another qualified …” because there was probably eight or nine of us senior NCOs on this warrant officer course, there’s only one a year. Anyway, it was an interesting conversation, I’ll talk about that during another session. Fast-forward to my officer selection board, as opposed to young airmen, we were all senior NCOs and warrant officers there across army.

Robbie:
There was probably 30 people at my officer selection board, so this was at [Ramwick 00:43:10], I did day one, and another senior NCO mate of mine who had been posted to another artillery unit, he was doing day two, and he was four or five years ahead of me, way better, way more capable, just as likable, really good on the sporting field, excellent senior NCO. [Jace Piers 00:43:27] is his name, and I’m like, “Fuck, he’s definitely going to get into this, I’m fucked here. If these other five got through and I’m here with Jace Piers, there’s no fucking way I’m going to get through.”

Robbie:
Anyway, rocked up to the officer selection board, same sort of thing, individual interviews, group interviews, boom boom boom boom boom boom boom. Those two questions they asked me during the final interview, they were like, “Right, so if you don’t get through this, what are you going to do?” I guess they were looking for me going, “I’m going to get out, and if I don’t get through, see you later, fuck you.” I’m like, “You know what? If I don’t get through, I’ll just continue on being a warrant officer, and I’m happy at work and I want to contribute to the military. I’ll go back and keep doing my thing, and I’ll be happy if I don’t get through.”

Robbie:
I guess that went down reasonably well, and then the last thing they said, “Look, give us three words that describe you and why you’re here right now, just off the cuff.” I’m like, “Um, I’m fit, I’m motivated, and I’m balanced,” and I had to explain those things as well. Obviously, I had a bit of a life outside of military, even though one wouldn’t disagree, Tam, on what you said before, I was literally walking, talking military. Anyway, I got through and then they had the final decision there, said, “Sergeant Turner, we’re just really, really pleased to note you impressed everyone here.”

Robbie:
Full colonel, half-colonel and major that were on the board there, one of them was a psych, they’re like, “Congratulations, you’ve now been accepted.”

Dane:
Wow.

Tamara:
Did the other guy get through?

Dane:
You beat Jace?

Robbie:
And the other guy didn’t get through.

Dane:
Ooh!

Robbie:
Because he’s ringing me, and I’m like, “Man, [inaudible 00:44:55] …” I gave him a quick heads-up of all the things you’re going to do, and I’m like, “Mate, you’re going to smash it.” Then they saw something in him that they didn’t fucking get through, and he left the military soon after, like he didn’t get through.

Dane:
It might’ve been that question.

Robbie:
I don’t know, mate, I don’t know.

Dane:
Because I think that’s the standard one they ask, because I got that same one, “What would you do if you don’t get through?” I go, “I’ll just be sitting here next year, I’ll apply again.”

Tamara:
“See you next year.”

Dane:
Yeah, and he’s like, “That’s a fucking good answer.”

Robbie:
I was actually staying at Richard and Natasha’s place, so they were living in [Manley 00:45:32] of course, back in the day. I went back to see them, and like, “How’d you go?” I’m like, “I’m in,” and they [crosstalk 00:45:37] were just fucking so happy for me, like so, so happy. It was very, very surreal, I didn’t have any idea what it was going to mean as far as that goes, and certainly during the next episode I’ll tell you all about my first couple years as a captain and how it all transitioned. I had to go back and inform my chain of command, and they were ecstatic for me, they were really, really happy.

Tamara:
Except that guy?

Robbie:
He wasn’t, [crosstalk 00:46:01] he was posted to a different unit, remember?

Tamara:
Oh, right.

Robbie:
Yeah, so my BC at the moment, Charles Weller, another really great friend of mine who’s been an outstanding mentor, he introduced me to leadership. He actually gave me a signed book of the leadership book by Rudy Giuliani, you know the guy with the shit bloody river down the side … Like he’s turned into a guy who I don’t admire, but when he was the mayor of New York during 9/11, which interestingly we watched a little session about that last night actually as we record this a few days before 9/11 now, the 20th anniversary. He gave me a signed book, it’s called Leadership, by him, so, “First thing’s first, always think win-win,” et cetera, et cetera.

Robbie:
That was really cool, and then they organized a commissioning ceremony for me. It was done in the unit, so we moved out of our own mess by then, a couple years later they built the [VASE 00:46:52] mess, where there’s a bit of a combined mess and they had the three different wings, the OR wing, the senior NCO wing, and the officer’s wing. We did a full commissioning ceremony there, and literally got me to stand up out the front, the CO was like, “Well done, Sergeant Turner, you got through the year. This guy’s an inspiration to everyone, blah blah blah blah blah.” Then someone come forward and basically ripped off my senior NCO rank, tossed that over their shoulder, put a captain rank on, everyone fucking clapped, right turn, bang.

Tamara:
Like literally ripped it off.

Robbie:
Yeah, just took it off. You take the under Velcro and take it off, and then put another one on and then close the Velcro again.

Tamara:
Very dramatic.

Robbie:
That was pretty cool.

Dane:
Feels good.

Robbie:
Then yes, bloody right turn, bang, and then-

Dane:
That was it.

Robbie:
See you later sergeants, and I literally walked out of one mess and into the other, went there and had a bloody beer with all the other captains. In the first few days of that, it was really, really weird. I walked past the warrant officers and still called them sir, and he goes, “No sir, I call you sir now,” so it was very, very weird to get used to straightaway.

Dane:
Takes a while, yeah.

Tamara:
Do you not call them sir anymore?

Robbie:
No, it’s fucking-

Tamara:
If you’re above them?

Robbie:
Yeah.

Dane:
Well, he’s commissioned.

Robbie:
That’s right.

Dane:
Saluting the commissioned as a “sir”.

Robbie:
I went straight to captain.

Tamara:
So people under you, you don’t call sir.

Robbie:
You definitely don’t call anyone under you sir, no.

Dane:
God no.

Tamara:
I just though it was polite.

Robbie:
“You sir.”

Dane:
Well, that might change, yeah.

Tamara:
“Hello, sir.”

Robbie:
Hopefully you guys found that a little bit entertaining. Dane, tell us about your first few days as a commissioned.

Dane:
Mine was similar. You had the lunchroom, and like Robbie said, you get your rank, and it was just at the squadron. The CO’s down there with the XO and the warrant officer of engineering, so our [WOWE 00:48:38] is what we call them, and someone comes up and goes, “Dane, they want you in the lunchroom.” I go in there, and the whole squadron is sitting in there, I’m like, “Fuck, what is this?” He’s goes, “Come in, come on,” and I walk in, walk up, and they present me with a [presento 00:48:52], we call it, which is my big thing with the C17 and stuff.

Dane:
But the lads, the social club which I was in, you know, Robbie, about that, the beers half price, the boys had gone and put a different plaque on it, so a plaque on top of the plaque but underneath the glass. They were stitching me up, so instead of writing 36th squadron, they’ve written 35, and then instead of writing my rank, they wrote ACW, which is a woman’s rank, ACW Roach. Anyway, but the CO is presenting it, so I get this and the CO’s looking at it, and he looks up and he goes, “All right,” and then he does a little presento, and, “He’s going off to ITS on Monday and he’s fucking driving down, blah blah blah blah blah,” and he’s like, “Without further ado,” and he rips off my rank slide, throws on my flying officer one, so he skipped part of that, flips on that, rose up, and he goes, “And you’re an officer of that right there, and I want to see whoever’s done this fucking plaque, because it is completely incorrect.” My mates are getting in trouble-

Robbie:
Already.

Dane:
They’re like, “Underneath, it’s the good …” He pulls it off, and obviously it’s got everything correct underneath it, and he’s like, “All right, I get it.” He wasn’t happy at the time, but it was weird too, because then it was just what you said, walked out of that straight up, down to the officer’s mess as well. I went down there because I had a lot of the JOs who were in the engineering realm because you work with them, we’re like, “Well, go down and have a beer, mate, before you go off.”

Robbie:
Yeah, it’s great.

Dane:
Which was a bit surreal, because I’m going down and having beers with people all being like, “Yes sir, yep, do that.”

Robbie:
It was very surreal indeed.

Dane:
Sitting there having a beer with them, and they’re talking about all this stuff that I just had no exposure to at my realm because I was a [DUA 00:50:31], where they were talking about like different capabilities, and, “We’re doing this,” and I was just like, “Fuck, this is cool.”

Robbie:
One thing I’m really glad, and it would’ve been a deterrent for me, is having to go down to do our OTS equivalent, and that would’ve been 18 months at Duntrune. I would’ve been like, “Oh fuck that,” and then having to do four or five years as a lieutenant as well. I would’ve done 12 years in the army so far, I didn’t want to fucking go back to being a bloody brand new lieutenant again. I do understand now a lot of the people that do ASWOCS have not forced to go through Duntrune, but they don’t go straight to captain. Yeah, [crosstalk 00:51:05]-

Dane:
All that, I think it’s amended now, because beforehand if you’d go to officer training school with the RAF, if you were a warrant officer or a flight sergeant, they only come down and do the last four weeks, which is just basic leadership. They don’t do the green phase, where you have to go outfield and do all that sort of stuff, but if you’re sergeant and below, you have to go and do the whole kit and kaboodle. I was the same, Robbie, I was like, “Oh my God, I do not want to do that,” but I was thinking like, “I’ve done it before, maybe it’ll be good.”

Dane:
When you get down there, straight up you get down there and it’s just people who’ve never, and they’re bitching about this and they’re bitching about that, and you’re just like, “Mate, just grit your teeth and just get through it, because it’s not a retreat.” Everything has an end.

Tamara:
It’s not the Macua yet.

Dane:
Yeah, “But it will be. You like the Shangri-La? You’ll be there,” but I was just like, “Just remember, everything has an end, so when you’re there with your chips on your shoulders and you’re getting yelled at, it will end eventually, so just hang in there,” because it does, and then it’s fucking awesome. I used to try and impart, “Once you get out to the real air force, it’s a different world, like you’re going to be out there and you will thoroughly enjoy it, don’t let this be …” Which is the advice I got in that airport that time, “This is just the start, don’t let it be the catalyst for everything else after that.”

Robbie:
Let me finish off with one of my more enjoyable experiences with a bit of tongue and cheek humor. About a week later, I deployed to Solomon Islands straightaway, so I’ll get into that during one of our next episodes, but I did get to see warrant officer Johnson, who called me into his office that day and called me Robin. Just before I left, he must’ve been visiting up to Townsville or whatever, and I went up to him as Captain Turner, he goes, “How are you, sir?” I said, “Michael, how are you?” He was actually really, really cool with it, he had a bit of a chuckle about it as well, he was like, “Good on you, mate,” all that sort of stuff.

Robbie:
It was a great little journey, to have that little fork in the road there where I was going to become a PDI, to go all the way through to Kapuka, go to senior NCO, deploy, come back, get commissioned, and boom, [inaudible 00:53:01]. One of the great things of my whole career was just about to start again, and little did I know I had another like 11 and a half, 12 years to go. I can’t wait to share that with you guys during the next sessions.

Dane:
Looking forward to it.

Robbie:
All right, thanks Tammy. You enjoy that?

Tamara:
Yeah, it was good.

Robbie:
Cool. Good on you, Dane. All right, see yous later everyone, have a great day.

Tamara:
Bye.

Robbie:
Bye.

Dane:
See ya!

 

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