Last night I was at the retirement drinks of Lt. Col. Gary L. Barnes at the Victoria Barracks Officers Mess in Sydney. I first met Gary on Remembrance Day 2011 at the Officers Mess. We became instant friends.
Gary is Australia’s longest and last National Serviceman. He has had a stellar career spanning over 40 years. He retired on 7th February 2012. He is indeed a legend. Last night a few of his friends and colleagues gathered at the Mess to share a drink with Gary and to wish him well.
I wanted to do something special for someone who has given so much in protecting and advancing Australia’s national interests. I asked the Office of the Governor-General if it was possible for Her Excellency to write a few words which can be read out at the retirement drinks. The Governor-General wrote these words. The message was read out by the President of the Mess Committee.
It is only fitting that as it is the Governor-General who commissions someone into service, it should be the Governor-General who signs a record of service for someone retiring after 25 plus years of active service. Much like the message Her Excellency wrote. The current process is that the service chief signs a record of service. Gary has served eight Governors-General.
The ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park Sydney was erected to “express with dignity and simplicity neither the glory nor the glamour of war, but those nobler attributes of human nature…Courage, Endurance, and Sacrifice.”
Lt. Col. Gary L. Barnes is a testament to those nobler attributes of human nature.