The power of the number seven was widely discussed by one particular family at the recent Recruit School Graduation parade for GE 357 in HMAS Cerberus.
At just 17 years old, Recruit Boatswains Mate Robert Hilton was the youngest graduate celebrating the milestone with his family, and one of the first of the generation of ‘millennials’ to join the Australian Navy.
His father, Chief Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain Peter Hilton, joined the Navy in October 1977 and undertook Junior Recruit Training at HMAS Leeuwin graduating as a Seaman Star Marine Technician.
“I have just qualified for my Federation Star for 40 years service and I am so proud to see Robert starting his career in the Navy,” Chief Petty Officer Hilton said.
“The Navy offers so many opportunities, I have served in many different classes of ships but my favourites are still the patrol boats.
“One of the highlights of my career was being at the helm, steering HMAS Ballarat north through the Suez Canal and south through the Panama Canal during Exercise NORTHERN TRIDENT 09.
“I was hoping Robert might have wanted to be an engineer like my first career in the Navy but he had his heart set on being a boatswains mate.”
Recruit Hilton’s mother, former Chief Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain Linda Hilton, joined the Navy in 1987 and met his father in 1997 – two more number sevens to add to the count.
She initially joined the Supply Branch as a victualler but transferred to Naval Police Coxswain in 1991.
“I am very happy to support Robert joining the Navy and proud to see him graduating,” she said.
“The highlight of my 25 years service was being the first female Naval Police Coxswain to go to sea in HMAS Jervis Bay in 1992.
“I have seen so much change for the better during my career and believe the Navy Values and Signature Behaviours reinforce the good working processes in the Navy,” she said.
For Recruit Hilton the graduation parade was the culmination of an arduous training period and he is looking forward to his category training.
“All my life I have wanted to join the Navy, it wasn’t just Mum and Dad’s influence, I was also a Naval Cadet,” he said.
“I was so keen to join but Dad wanted me to get some more life experience first so after finishing school in year 10, I worked in the Military Shop in Canberra until I enlisted.”
Recruit Hilton’s sister, Jennifer, also attended his graduation parade, taking a break from her studies at the University of Wollongong. She is also hoping to join the Navy when she finishes her degree and who knows if there will another number seven in the date for this family.