Australian officer shares Veterans Day tradition

Royal Australian Air Force Wing Cmdr. Russell Barton leads the local Australian Defence Force in the Veterans Day parade held in Leonardtown, Nov. 11.

Supporting his U.S. allies, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Wing Cmdr. Russell Barton led the local Australian Defence Force (ADF) contingent comprised of RAAF and Royal Australian Navy personnel posted to Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, alongside U.S. military service members in the Veterans Day parade held in Leonardtown, Nov. 11.

He has been participating in parades since joining the RAAF in 1996, but this is the first local parade that he’s participated in since arriving to the area with his family in January 2020.

“Paying my respects to those that served in uniform and fought for and paid a high price for our freedom is very important to me,” Barton said. “The ability to show support to our U.S. ally is also a great honor.”

Remembrance Day (Veterans Day in Australia) is typically marked by a minute of silence at the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month but their main parades are on ANZAC Day, a national public holiday that commemorates all Australian and New Zealand personnel who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations and the contribution and suffering of all who have served. It is celebrated each year on April 25.

Barton has also passed on the military tradition to his two sons, Austin and Max, who attend Leonard Hall Junior Naval Academy (LHJNA) in Leonardtown, the only military school in the area. Austin carried the Australian National Flag while Max escorted the ADF contingent with a drill rifle supplied by LHJNA.

Barton also serves on the board of trustees for the LHJNA.

“It’s my way of giving back to the community,” he said. “We have no equivalent of a military school in Australia, so my sons are receiving a full cultural experience.”

Barton is currently assigned to the Airborne Electronic Attack Systems Program Office (PMA-234) at Naval Air Systems Command as the Deputy Project Manager for the Australian Cooperative Project Personnel supporting the Next Generation Jammer Joint Project Office.