Home' Army News : March 3rd 2011 Contents www.dha.gov.au
110 years of service
Congratulations to the Australian Army. We look forward to supporting
you for many years to come.
Army ANNIVERSARY LIFTOUT March 3, 2011
I love the way they make people their first priority; the Army is
very people orientated and I admire that.
'' SCDT TAMARA MALKKI, RMC
50 YEARS IN
Maj Bruce Hughes is the Australian Regular
Army's longest-serving member.
SGT ANDREW HETHERINGTON
THERE are not many people who
stay in the same job for 48 years.
Army has one such individual in
its ranks, who's served seven years
short of half of Army's 110 years of
Maj Bruce Hughes joined the
ARA as an officer cadet on January
24, 1963, at the age of 18. He is
currently the longest-serving ARA
"I joined because it was a fun
thing to do and I thought the organi-
sation was exciting," Maj Hughes
"I didn't have a goal in mind, I
just wanted to join the Army."
His father saw service in the
Army as a signaller during World
"He served in Australia and in
New Guinea, joining in 1941 and
leaving the Army in 1945," he said.
"He enjoyed it and after the war
went to all the reunions and spun all
his old war stories.
"He didn't have any bad dreams,
waking up in the night cursing the
His father's military service didn't
really have much of an influence on
Maj Hughes, but the books he read as
a child did.
"I remember reading his Khaki
and Green and Stand Easy, which
gave me the idea the Army would be
a fun career choice," he said.
After joining the Army straight
out of school and graduating from
RMC Duntroon, Maj Hughes
went on to complete a degree of
Civil Engineering at Queensland
"RMC was a four-year process
back then, with two years' military
and two years' academic training,"
"When I finished my four years
I had two years of credit towards an
engineering degree, which I eventu-
ally finished in Brisbane.
"I ended up doing an extended
degree, but as I was having such a
good time drinking and socialising
with women, I failed the third year."
After being told it would be in his
best interests to pass, he took it to
heart and in 1969 he did.
In October 1970, he deployed to
Vietnam with 17 Const Sqn for one
year based at Nui Dat.
"We completed a lot of road and
bridge work, built houses for the
local people and maintained airfields.
"We weren't involved in any
engagements, I think because the VC
thought 'well if these stupid bastards
want to build the roads and bridges
let's not stop them'."
Maj Hughes has had eight post-
ings. One of his most interesting was
with a civilian engineering company.
"I worked with John Holland for
20 months in 1975-76 on exchange
rebuilding the Tasman Bridge in
Tasmania after the central section
was knocked down by the bulk ore
carrier Lake Illawarrah," he said.
"It was very interesting and chal-
lenging, as we had to very carefully
demolish the collapsed bridge struc-
ture and then rebuild it."
His current posting as Project
Director Special Training Facilities
has lasted for more than 30 years.
"In 1980 I wrote in my confi-
dential report to my career manager,
Lt-Col Peter Smith, I felt I was more
productive when I was sleeping than
when I was working," he said.
"I was bored and after being told
I'd reached my ceiling rank of major,
I was going to quit the Army."
Lt-Col Smith then offered him
a two-year posting to Perth to build
counterterrorism training facilities
for the SASR.
Maj Hughes took the job and
hasn't regretted it.
"It was the very beginning of
counter-terrorism in 1980 and since
then I've been involved in the con-
ception, construction and ongoing
development of SASR special train-
ing facilities," Maj Hughes said.
After almost 50 years of service,
he doesn't think Army has changed
much at all.
"We still do things well because
people work hard and people stuff up
because they don't put effort into the
detail," he said.
"What I'm saying is human
nature hasn't changed much at all.
The diggers of the 1960s were just as
good as the diggers of today.
"Obviously technology changes,
but the critical thing is how we use it.
"One of the reasons the Australian
Army is more successful than other
armed forces is not because we are
better than them, it's because we
don't make as many mistakes as
them and are trained more rigorous-
ly."He has some advice to people
who have just started their Army
"Get in there and have fun," Maj
"Don't sit back and expect to be
spoon fed. Get out there and make
your own challenges and fun, as
you'll find the Army is the place to
let you do it."
He plans to eventually retire when
he hits age 70.
His retirement plan has him
involved with locomotives.
"I'll go and play with my model
train collection, which I haven't had
time for," he said.
"I have an extensive collection,
the number I can't disclose because
my wife will find out.
"Put it this way, I could buy a
house with them."
LONG SERVICE: Maj Bruce Hughes has served in the Australian
Army for 48 of its 110 years.
PHOTO BY SPR KEN LIVESEY
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