Bowie swaps centre stage for a theatre of operations

Published on LCDR Tracey Bellerby (author), ABIS Sarah Williams (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation SLIPPER, HMAS Darwin (F04)

HMAS Darwin's Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Wilfred Bowie, closed up on the 12.7mm gun. (photo: ABIS Sarah Williams)
HMAS Darwin's Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Wilfred Bowie, closed up on the 12.7mm gun.

Wilfred ‘Bowie’ Bowie is currently serving as an Able Seaman Boatswains Mate onboard HMAS Darwin, deployed on Operation SLIPPER. Having grown up in Injinoo Queensland, Bowie wanted to find a job where he could be an example for his family and friends.

With the full support of his family, Able Seaman Bowie joined the Royal Australian Navy in September 2011, undergoing basic training at HMAS Cerberus. Being a Boatswains Mate was appealing because it would allow him to work outdoors, keep fit and travel. The mateship and job security that the Navy gives you was also appealing, so he did not have to think for too long about joining.

Having an uncle involved in Indigenous recruitment for the Australian Defence Force (ADF), Able Seaman Bowie participated in the Defence Indigenous Development Program and was shown other job opportunities available outside his home town.

“My uncle wanted us to be challenged, to extend our horizons,” Able Seaman Bowie said.

HMAS Darwin's Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Wilfred Bowie.

HMAS Darwin's Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Wilfred Bowie.

Family involvement in the ADF can be traced back to WWII, with his grandfather being a private in a light infantry battalion. There are also numerous uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews that continue to serve in all branches of the ADF.

Able Seaman Bowie was selected to represent indigenous ADF personnel as part of the Royal Australian Navy Indigenous Dance Group at the International Fleet Review (IFR), conducted in Sydney during October 2013.

“It was an awesome experience. Getting together and performing with other indigenous ADF members was an unforgettable experience,” Able Seaman Bowie said.

The experience of being involved in the IFR has made him reflect on something that his grandfather, Adhi Ephraim Bani, a traditional owner and mentor, once said to him - “Past must exist for the present to create the future”.

The IFR celebrated anniversary of the first entry of Royal Australian Navy warships into Sydney Harbour on 4 October 1913.

Darwin is assigned to the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO), where she is conducting maritime security operations in the Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean.

Darwin is deployed in support of Operation SLIPPER in the 57th rotation of Royal Australian Navy ships to deploy to the MEAO since 1990.