The rolling hills of Kangarilla, South Australia, on a farm steeped in family history would normally keep a resident locked into a life in that idyllic location, but not Air Vice-Marshal Tracy Smart.

Her father was a Nasho and her uncle was a Wellington pilot during World War II and because of that she always had an attraction to the military, originally with the Navy.

In the late 1970s women still couldn’t go to sea so Air Vice-Marshal Smart decided on a medical career. At medical school she met undergraduates who had joined the Air Force. 

A child of the 1960s, Air Vice-Marshal Smart was a space nut and the idea of aerospace medicine held an enormous appeal.

Air Vice-Marshal Smart rose to become Commander Joint Health and Surgeon-General of the ADF.

“It’s a very different life from that I led in Kangarilla where I picked grapes for 50 cents a bucket, jumped into wool bale boxes to press the wool and helped dad with our sheep,” Air Vice-Marshal Smart said.

“As Surgeon-General I was the senior doctor in the ADF and also provided strategic health advice to Defence and the government.”

She transferred to the Defence Reserve Force in March 2020 after more than 34 years of service to the Air Force and the ADF.

In an eventful life of service Air Vice-Marshal Smart even had her passion satisfied when she met Neil Armstrong.

But her most challenging experiences did not revolve around aerospace medicine. They came when Air Vice-Marshal Smart deployed to the United Nations Peacekeeping mission in Rwanda in 1995: investigated, as medical officer, the F-111 accident on Pulau Aur, Malaysia in 1999; and, tragically endured the loss of three of her devoted medical staff in the Sea King accident on Nias Island in 2005. 

“Most of our work in Rwanda was humanitarian work and this prepared me for the work I did later in Timor Leste where, as Chief Health Officer with the UN Peacekeeping Force, I worked with the emerging Timorese health service,” Air Vice-Marshal Smart said. 

“While I was crowned karaoke Queen of Dili when in Timor Leste, these days are a little more relaxed with my hobbies of watching cricket, travelling, keeping fit and keeping my very special connection with South Australia by following my AFL team the Adelaide Crows.

“I also do occasional volunteer work, including with OzHarvest.”

Air Vice-Marshal Smart’s illustrious career also took her to Lebanon to assist with an evacuation in 2006, coordinate Air Force Health responses for Operations Bali Assist 2, Pakistan Assist, Sumatra Assist 1 and 2, and support the relief efforts in the Solomon Islands after the 2007 earthquake and tsunami.

Planning is underway for the Centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force on March 31, 2021. For further details, visit: airforce.gov.au/100