Busy from go to WO

Published on SGT Dave Morley (author), LSIS Nina Fogliani (photographer), LSIS James McDougall (photographer)

File image: Reviewing Officer, Warrant Officer of the Navy Gary Wight inspects graduating members of General Entry 341 Shipp Division on the Recruit School Parade Ground, HMAS Cerberus, May 2016. (photo: LSIS Nina Fogliani)
File image: Reviewing Officer, Warrant Officer of the Navy Gary Wight inspects graduating members of General Entry 341 Shipp Division on the Recruit School Parade Ground, HMAS Cerberus, May 2016.

On the 25th anniversary of the creation of the position of Warrant Officer of the Navy (WO-N), the incumbent, WO-N Gary Wight reflects on the role.

For Gary Wight, there’s no such thing as a typical day. This becomes obvious as Navy’s eighth WO-N takes time out of his hectic schedule to talk about what the role entails.

“Last week I was with a group of international command senior enlisted leaders from across the Pacific in Hawaii,” WO-N Wight says. 

“Today I spoke with the Commanding Officer/Executive Officer Designate course in Canberra. On Wednesday I will be in HMAS Stirling attending a Leading Seaman Forum hosted by Deputy Chief of Navy, Thursday a Navy leadership development workshop in HMAS Leeuwin, and Friday I will speak at a Command Warrant Officer course in Sydney. 

“As well as extensive travel and engagement with our people, I’m a member of most Navy strategic committees and boards, which requires extensive reading and preparation before attending the meetings. 

“When I get time in the office, I’ll take the opportunity to catch up on correspondence, which includes congratulatory letters to personnel on promotion, command appointments, and to those who achieve unique and exceptional things, like being recognised in the Australia Day or Queen’s Birthday honours lists, or significant sporting or charitable endeavours.”

Warrant Officer of the Navy Gary Wight, at the Deputy Chief of Navy's Leading Seaman Forum at HMAS Harman, December 2018.

Warrant Officer of the Navy Gary Wight, at the Deputy Chief of Navy's Leading Seaman Forum at HMAS Harman, December 2018.

But despite the long hours, he enjoys the role, “especially engaging so extensively with our people, particularly our sailors, and giving them a voice”. 

He also enjoys serving as a reviewing officer at Recruit School graduations – “because that’s where my career began” – and being involved with the strategic decision-making.

Navy’s first WO-N, Paul Whittaker, a Vietnam War veteran, was appointed in December 1993 and served in that role until January 1997.

WO-N Wight didn’t know WO-N Whittaker, but he has often been told he was an empathetic and caring person who worked hard to improve the lives of sailors.

“He was intelligent and engaging, and he was respected across all ranks, which was probably why he got the job,” WO-N Wight says.