Naval Group Australia Veteran Spotlight – Rhys Chadwick

Rhys Chadwick (featured in header image front row, far right) joined the Royal Australian Navy at the start of 2004 in full-time Active Duty. He held a wide range of roles while in the Navy, before 2013, where he transitioned to an Active Naval Reservist. While still serving, Rhys joined the Naval Group Australia engineering team as a CSI & PSI Interface Manager.

What was your biggest “wow” moment while serving within the Australian Defence Force?

It would have to be participating in a War Game called “Bersama Lima”.

During these exercises, navies from all around the world participate in a simulation where we put our training and technology to the test. Not only did I witness my shipmates rise above the fatigue and stress of a demanding environment and long hours, I also witnessed, and was part of, an element of family and togetherness. 

This would be enough to make anyone think “that was cool”, but when you throw in another four countries that you need to work with as an allied force to complete the game’s mission, you realise the true enormity of the situation. I was 19 years old, and it was then I realised how small I myself was, but how hugely important the men and women in our Australian Defence Force are. 

What have you been most proud of within your defence career?

I had just returned from deployment, spending three months away from home. My little brother (aged seven) and I were very close, and he would tell me how excited he was to see me over the phone. I had only been home for two weeks before we receieved the news that [I] had to deploy and provide support to another warship that suffered a critical failure.

I was saying goodbye to my family on the wharf, and my little brother gave me a big hug and said “thankyou, I love you, I will keep Mum and Dad safe “, and with that he turned and walked back to Mum, refusing to turn back around and wave.

He was crying, and he didn’t want me to worry.

At that point I had never been so proud of my family and the strength they showed, as I prepared to leave again.

What does Anzac Day mean to you?

Anzac Day means a day of respect, recognition and stories. A day to recognise and respect the fallen, the standing, the serving, and the veterans and families.

We take the day to pause, listen, and catch a glimpse of the diversity of sacrifice, honour and integrity they display; telling our own story to share a part of ourselves, united on common ground to share laughter, shed tears and remember what makes us ‘brothers and sisters’.

What is one of you fondest Anzac Day memories?

After marching in Sydney I was at a bar having a beer with my shipmates. A woman approached to tell me the story of how her father and grandfather had died in service, and to offer that she had put money behind the bar so every one of us [in our group] could have a ‘thank you’ beer. With a kiss on a cheek and a big hug, she left.

I never got her name or ever saw her again, but the gesture has never left my memory.

Rhys Chadwick, far left

How will you be commemorating  Anzac Day this year? 

0430: I will put on my suit.

0500: I will take a moment to remember a few mates that took their lives, due to the battle with mental illness.

0600: I wlll tune into the dawn service (from home this year, of course).

0700: I will catch up with a few military friends for a 1.5m distance BBQ at my place.

1000: I will video-call Mum because, because it’s her birthday! (plus she always likes to see the suit).

1100: I will remember, and respect.