Spin-out? medal launches a career
By EMMA CORNFORD
WHEN AN email was sent to air force personnel, listing names of recipients of RAAF awards in proficiency and leadership, former Grafton man, air force officer Rod Barton didn't pay much attention.
And although his name was on the list for two of the honours, he didn't even notice.
"I didn't even know until my boss pointed it out to me. He called me up and asked if I'd seen it," Mr Barton said. "It was a bit of a spin out, that's for sure."
As well as being awarded the Australian Defence Force Industry Leadership Award for the most outstanding graduate at the Officer Training School, Mr Barton was given the Queen's Gold medal, presented to the most outstanding officer trainee graduate.
The award recognises exemplary conduct, performance and influence on others.
The 29-year-old, who graduated as an officer last year, isn't getting carried away.
"All it is, is one of those things which looks good for you in terms of your career and looks good. There's not any letters behind my name or anything, but it really motivates you to do even better and helps with your prospects of promotion."
Being awarded the honours was no easy task for the former South Grafton High School student, who graduated from the first Initial Officers' Course class in six years to have a 100 per cent pass rate.
"There was a really high standard in that class," said his father, Peter.
"But Rodney worked so hard and put so much effort into it that he really deserved it."
Mr Barton said he had always wanted to serve in the military.
He joined the air force during university.
Although he made it to the final interview, he was initially told to complete his degree before joining up.
But a couple of months later he was contacted by a recruitment officer, who ex- plained he could join the RAAF in a different way. He did that, completed his degree and never looked back.
"He had a goal that he wanted to achieve and he went for it," Peter said.
"We were absolutely stoked when he got the award.
"I've never seen my mother so jubilant.
"She jumped up and down and 'woop wooped'.
"It was tremendous."