DESCENDING from an overcast sky above Canberra, members of the Red Berets trailed red smoke behind an unfurled flag of the RAR.
Veterans and soldiers watched as they landed on the Royal Military College parade ground, as part of proceedings to commemorate the regiment’s 75th year.
Each battalion’s Colours were marched out individually to the tune of their quick march song, played by the Royal Military College band.
Holding close the connections he made, Brig Chris Appleton (retd), former CO 5/7RAR, said it was a “magnificent parade”.
“It was so wonderful to see all the Colours of the regiment on parade,” Brig Appleton said.
“In 25 years, the infantry trainees who were on guard will be at the 100th anniversary, they’ll write the next chapter of this great story.”
Reviewing officer, CA Lt-Gen Simon Stuart, took the opportunity to award theatre honours for Malaya (Conflict) 1955-1963 and the Malaysia (Confrontation) 1964-1966 to all battalion Colours.
‘Duty First’, a motto chosen because it was parallel to the fundamental requirement of a soldier, has stuck with Brig Appleton, who also served as a company commander with the 1RAR.
“When I was a 17-year-old cadet my drill sergeant was infantry, and I learnt from him that ‘Duty First’ was not just a cap badge,” he said. “It was a way of life and I unashamedly followed him to the Royal Australian Regiment.”
Brig Appleton said while warfighting was always changing, the regiment had always been able to adapt.
“Our regiment has done it for 75 years and it’s time for another generation to carry it on,” he said.
“There are no mates like the mates with whom you served in uniform.”
RSM of the School of Infantry, WO1 Scott Krum, who has served almost 30 years, said he was now in a position he used to look up to as a junior soldier.
“We were all diggers once, whether it be a non-commissioned officer or an officer as you go through your career – we all aspired to be that one person,” WO1 Krum said.
“Being out on parade as a young soldier and seeing the battalion Colours marched on, you get goosebumps.”
Throughout his career with the regiment, WO1 Krum said his two highlights were working with the Afghanistan National Army in 2009 and being deployed to evacuate Australians from Afghanistan two years ago.
He always wanted to be an infantry soldier and now, as parade RSM, he said having all battalions of the regiment, including 4 Bn, represented contributed to making the commemoration a “great spectacle”.
“The regiment will always have a place on the battlefield regardless of technology,” WO1 Krum said.
“This is why the role hasn’t changed – to seek out and close with the enemy – someone has to be on the ground to ensure the effects the country tasks us with are achieved.”
More than 65,000 soldiers have served on active service in the regiment, with 706 making the ultimate sacrifice. Originally formed in 1948 with three battalions, it now consists of seven and holds a proud history of defending Australia.
Defence image Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Simon Stuart AO, DSC, inspects the parade held for the 75th anniversary of the Royal Australian Regiment held at Royal Military College-Duntroon, Canberra.