For Glen Gallagher the decision to join the Royal Australian Air Force was inspired by his uncle who had served in the Royal Air Force (UK) flying with the Red Arrows.
“My Grandfather served in World War Two and participated in Operation Dynamo,” Mr Gallagher said.
“These family inspirations slowly but surely influenced my decision to pursue a career in the Air Force.”
Joining the RAAF in 1991 Mr Gallagher said that for the duration of his time in the Air Force he would spend an average of more than six months every year on deployment or on operations.
“It was an exciting time for sure, going out with 12 of your best mates on an adventure. We would jump in an aircraft the world would spin and we would be in a new place,” he said.
“You develop a close bond with those people and when you are young it is all exhilarating.”
Mr Gallagher retired from the Air Force in late 2019 after 28 years of service and now works for Boeing Defence Australia as the P-8A Operations Support Manager supporting Air Force training capability for both aircrew and maintenance training.
“When I retired, I needed a roadmap of what the next few years were going to be like to support my wife’s career and my children’s growth and stability,” he said.
“My family are my reason for being and over the years they have been so wonderfully supportive of me and my career.
“I can’t say it wasn’t a scary feeling leaving the ‘military family’ you literally grew up with and it was certainly an adjustment.
“A road map can be hard to work sometimes especially when you are leaving the ADF but after working out what I wanted to do, it has been very rewarding to have a little more control over what the family is going to be doing.”
When asked about how his military experience has translated into life after the ADF, he said his time in service had helped in so many ways.
“Communication, risk management, reputation management, credibility and of course my aviation experience all come naturally and assist in my current role,” he said.
“I was fortunate what while I was in the Air Force, I was sponsored to complete a Masters of Aerospace Engineering and a Masters of Systems Engineering which also significantly helped when I left.
“The difference is these days I wear a polo shirt instead of a uniform but still love what I do.”
“In the future though I’d like to continue supporting the war fighter in any Defence Industry role. I’d like to get something called ‘spare time’ and use it to create more family memories.”
In his spare time Mr Gallagher likes to keep active jogging, cycling and volunteering with Surf Life Saving South Australia.
“I always dabbled in Surf Life Saving growing up I loved the idea of helping people and with a beach at the end of my street that was the obvious place to be.
“It wasn’t until I stepped back from the Air Force that I reignited that drive. I was walking my dog past the surf club and decided to go in and see what I could do, and I haven’t looked back.
“I love it, of course most people know surf life savers do rescues in the water but it is so much more than that. We are the first responders at all kinds of beach emergencies and of course prevention is better than rescue so we spend a lot of time talking to people and explaining the dangers so they can swim safely.
“I get such a buzz when I am able to help someone at the beach but the skills you learn we use in everyday life as well – much like many of the skills I developed in the Air Force.
“In particular the confidence to lead in a situation that can be dangerous or when you are under a lot of pressure.”
Mr Gallagher also said that while the ADF has been a big part of his life he hopes the wider South Australian community see that people who serve are people just like the rest of the community.
“Not all scars are visible. Selflessness is second nature to a lot of ADF veterans, so please don’t get upset if a door is held open for you or if you receive a genuine offer of assistance – even though it seems out of place.
“I am a veteran but I am a regular person just like everyone else as well.”
Mr Gallagher’s story is part of an ongoing story telling series by Veterans SA. To read more stories of how those with military experience living in South Australia are contributing to our community click here.