Warrant Officer Gary Bones has been farewelled into retirement by Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Amberley, having spent about 75 per cent of his life serving.

Enlisting in 1970, Warrant Officer Bones clocked just over 49.5 years in Air Force as a personnel capability specialist.

Starting in a clerk admin role (as the mustering was then known), he posted to many RAAF bases, including Butterworth in Malaysia, Air Force Headquarters in Canberra, Point Cook, Pearce, Glenbrook, Townsville and Tindal.

A reservist for the past 12 years, Warrant Officer Bones said two major highlights of his career were working at No. 33 Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond when the squadron flew Boeing 707s and in maintenance control for Dassault Mirage III aircraft.

“Both were the busiest, but most satisfying positions,” Warrant Officer Bones said.

“I also loved my time starting the Air Training Cadet Flight in Katherine in 1990.

“The program did, and continues to, change children’s lives and offer new opportunities for education and future careers.”

“The current personnel capability specialist mustering is full of outstanding individuals and I encourage them to seek out avenues to learn and expand their thinking.” 

Further reflecting on the past half century, Warrant Officer Bones said the major improvements he has seen are in regard to cultural awareness, support networks for women in Defence and the uptake of new technology.

“When I first joined, one human resources computer took up two rooms in a building at Russell Offices and we used manual typewriters,” Warrant Officer Bones said.

“I was a flight sergeant at Headquarters Air Command before desktop computers were introduced.

“The current personnel capability specialist mustering is full of outstanding individuals and I encourage them to seek out avenues to learn and expand their thinking – whether that is through Defence or outside institutions like university.” 

Warrant Officer Bones attributed his general health to a long career in Air Force and said he would make the most of it during retirement while riding his three motorbikes around Australia.