A family proud to serve

This article has photo gallery Published on SBLT Kat Mulheron (author), ABIS Cassie McBride (photographer), ABIS James McDougall (photographer)

Location(s): Recruit School, HMAS Cerberus

Topic(s): Shipp Division

From left, Seaman Star Taylah Slavik-Rolfe, Elaine Slavik and Petty Officer Aviation Technician Avionics Mezz Slavik, at the Royal Australian Navy Recruit School, HMAS Cerberus Victoria. (photo: ABIS Cassie McBride)
From left, Seaman Star Taylah Slavik-Rolfe, Elaine Slavik and Petty Officer Aviation Technician Avionics Mezz Slavik, at the Royal Australian Navy Recruit School, HMAS Cerberus Victoria.

Ninety-eight of Navy's newest Recruits formally completed their initial training at the Royal Australian Navy’s Recruit School at HMAS Cerberus on 6 March, but one family was marking the entry of its third generation into the Australian Defence Force.

Seaman Star Taylah Slavik-Rolfe graduated under the proud gaze of her mother, Petty Officer Aviation Technician Avionics Mary-Ann Slavik, and grandmother, Mrs Elaine Slavik, whose late husband, Dieter, served in the Royal Australian Air Force from 1957 until 1987 and retired as a Squadron Leader.

Squadron Leader Dieter Slavik portrait taken in 1987.

Squadron Leader Dieter Slavik portrait taken in 1987.



The tradition of serving in the Navy goes even further back in the Slavik family with Taylah’s great grandfather, Werner Herbke, serving in German U-boats in the Second World War. He was captured by Russian forces during the war and never heard from again.

“I am really proud to see her out there today and she has settled in well to the Navy family making awesome friends,” Petty Officer Slavik said.

“My father was a child immigrant after the war and his name is on the Welcome Wall at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.”

The Welcome Wall lists some of the six million people who have migrated to Australia as part of the First Fleet, post war refugees and migrants who came to Australia for a new beginning.

When asked why she joined the Navy, Seaman Star Slavik-Rolfe said her mum was her inspiration.

Kapitӓnleutnant Werner Herbke served on German U Boats in WWII.

Kapitӓnleutnant Werner Herbke served on German U Boats in WWII.


“I saw how hard mum worked and I really liked what she told me about the Navy. As I was completing year 12, I signed up to join soon after graduation,” Seaman Star Slavik-Rolfe said.

Seaman Slavik-Rolfe graduated as part of GE329 Shipp Division, named after Leading Aircrewman Noel Ervin Shipp, who joined the Royal Australian Navy in January 1963 as an Underwater Control Rating, later transferring to the Aircrewman category.
 
Leading Aircrewman Shipp was killed in action on 31 May 1969 and in honour of his brave and selfless service, Divisions of sailors commencing their careers will continue to graduate under his name along with three other sailors whose service epitomises Navy's values.