Holt, Dalton, Davis recognised in Australia Day honours

THREE Shoalhaven residents have been honoured in this year’s Australia Day awards.

Cambewarra’s Dr Ron Holt was awarded the OAM for service to tertiary education, particularly in foreign languages, while in the military section of the awards, Rear Admiral Tony Dalton was awarded the AM for exceptional service in the field of helicopter acquisition and sustainment in the Australian Defence Force and Warrant Officer Gordon Davis the Conspicuous Service Medal (CSM) for meritorious devotion to duty as command senior sailor of NUSQN 725 and Senior Maintenance Unit Coordinator during 2013 and 2014.

Dr Ron Holt OAM. 

Dr Ron Holt OAM. Photo; Nicolette Pickard

Dr Ron Holt OAM. Photo; Nicolette Pickard

A FASCINATION with languages from a young child led Dr Ron Holt to pursue a career in linguistics.

More than 50 years on, he has a doctorate in the subject, speaks numerous languages and was awarded the OAM in the Australia Day honours for service to tertiary education, particularly in foreign languages.

“It is a great honour. I’m very humbled by it,” he said.

“I remember being delighted as a kid when our immigration program got going in the late ’40s. Suddenly I got to meet these exotic people speaking exotic languages and I was fascinated by them. It just went on to become my career.”

His tertiary teaching and research career began 50-odd years ago and he has taught at several universities, including ANU.

In later years he was head of a languages department and a member of the professoriate at three Australasian universities, including associate professor and head of languages, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand, 1996-2005; chairperson, Auckland International College, 2001-2005 and council member, since 2001.

He was an honorary fellow at Australian Catholic University and associate professor at Charles Sturt University in the 1990s.

He is the author and editor of 29 books, since 1967, including: 'Basic Reference Grammar of German', H&H, Sydney, 1996, and 'The Strength of Tradition: Stories of the Immigrant Presence', University of Queensland Press, 1983.

“As a kid I was delighted when our immigration program got going in the late ’40s. Suddenly I got to meet these exotic people speaking exotic languages and I was fascinated by them. It just went on to become my career.” - Dr Ron Holt OAM

He has been a German interpreter, professional level 3, translation and interpreting service (TIS National), since 2007 and German tutor and organiser for various adult education language education venues including the Australian National University Centre for Continuing Education, 1970-1973; the Shoalhaven University of the Third Age and Community College, Workers' Educational Association Illawarra, 2009-2013.

“ I have been head of languages at a couple universities,” he said, “the general field of applied language studies.

“My doctorate at Macquarie University was in the field of the sociology of language.

“Applied languages is not only a whole range of foreign languages. We also taught sign language for the deaf,  translation and interpreting. We also trained language teachers at primary, secondary and tertiary level.

“We had a lot of postgraduate students who went on to investigate anything of interest that comes from language, things like what makes a good writer of essays in senior school English to investigating the language of banned Chinese religious group Falun Gong.

“Anything to do with increasing the efficiencies of language.”

Now 76, he said he can remember as “a little kid” learning how Australia was really very much “a British colony”.

“All the governors were retired military people from Britain. Almost all the professors at university all came from England. We started school each year learning about the British Empire,” he said.

“Our immigration program changed that. The whole area of language and diversity of multiculturalism are really great developments in Australian society.

“We are a very tolerant country. We have a few problems now with some fringe people engineering things but I have always believed the history of human progress is always from intercultural contacts.”

Dr Holt can speak or write one other language almost as well as his native english.

“I can hold a good conversation level in another language, while there are another four or five I can hold a basic conversational level,” he said.

“I have often acted as an interpreter.

“It is great to be able to go and visit those countries. I have worked in 15 or 16 different countries and visited nearly 40.”

Rear Admiral Tony Dalton AM

Rear Admiral Tony Dalton

Rear Admiral Tony Dalton

REAR Admiral Tony Dalton, was awarded the AM in the Military Division of the Order of Australia for his service in the field of helicopter acquisition and sustainment in the Australian Defence Force.

RADM Dalton has made a profound and enduring contribution to the ADF helicopter capability and his leadership and vision have led to the progressive renewal of the navy and army helicopter fleets.

He has contributed directly to comprehensive improvements in the acquisition and sustainment of a modern, technically sophisticated and combat-ready helicopter fleet for the ADF.

He said the award was a great honour.

“It was a bit of a surprise when I was notified,” he said.

Throughout his career RADM Dalton has had a strong association with HMAS Albatross.

“I have been fortunate enough to be involved with some really great teams for the past five or six years and this award is recognition of the team’s effort more than mine.” - Rear Admiral Tony Dalton AM

“Even though I work in Canberra I still live at Berry, have done so for many years and as a naval aviator I always seem to come back to Albatross,” he said.

“I have been fortunate enough to be involved with some really great teams for the past five or six years and this award is recognition of the team’s effort more than mine.

“It is a nice honour for my body of work to be recognised, but in my view, I’m basking in the reflected glory of the hard work of the people who I work with.”

Over the past five years he has been responsible for the navy aviation program which has seen the introduction of the new Romeo Seahawk helicopters and the  Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) at Albatross.

For the past three years he has been the senior person responsible all the ADF helicopter programs,  including the new Chinook program and Tiger attack helicopters for army and the MRH-90 Romeo helicopters for navy.

“We are now on a much better footing than previously,” he said.

“I am a naval aviator first and foremost and that’s what drives my heart. And that means my career is centred around Albatross at Nowra and the South Coast.

“While I have left a few times and lived in the Middle East, UK and US we always come back here. My family is here and my girls have gone to school here. The South Coast is an important part of our lives.”

His career started at 723 Squadron as a junior pilot before moving to 817 Squadron flying Sea Kings before becoming an instructor. A stint on the original Seahawk at 816 Squadron followed where he became executive officer.

He moved to the training authority, working in operations and academic procedures before becoming the first commanding officer of the 805 Squadron and the ill-fated Seasprite helicopters.

He completed a postgraduate course at the US Navy War College and moved into the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) working on the Seasprite acquisition before becoming Director of Naval Officers’ posting across all the navy.

He was Commander Fleet Air Arm at HMAS Albatross for two years before heading up the navy’s and later the ADF’s helicopters systems division where he was responsible for all ADF rotary wing systems.

He has more recently taken on a new role in acquisitions where he is responsible for all Australian Defence’s joint systems including radar, warfare systems, radios and communications.

Warrant Officer Gordon Davis CSM

Warrant Officer Gordon Davis with his wife Jacinta and sons Liam, Mitchell and Ashton.

Warrant Officer Gordon Davis with his wife Jacinta and sons Liam, Mitchell and Ashton.

WARRANT Officer Gordon Davis was awarded the Conspicuous Service Medal (CSM)  for meritorious devotion to duty as command senior sailor of NUSQN 725 and senior maintenance unit coordinator during 2013 and 2014.

Then a Chief Petty Officer, Davis applied outstanding leadership and management skills in partnership with superior technical knowledge during the acceptance and introduction into service of the MH-60R helicopter.  

His work ethic and passion for innovation focussed his efforts on improvements resulting in more efficient and productive maintenance practices for the MH-60R helicopter.  

His contribution will be a significant legacy for the service life of this aircraft.

“I was very surprised when notified but also very proud,” he said.

“I was in a bit of shock.”

“It is an exciting time to be involved. These aircraft will be around for the next 30 years and without doubt they got it right. It is an exciting capability.” - Warrant Officer Gordon Davis CSM

He was part of the team from HMAS Albatross which spent two years in the US, training for the new Romeo helicopters with US Navy in Jacksonville.

For the first 12 months of that deployment a warrant officer wasn’t sent with the team, with CPO Davis stepping up into the role, reporting to the commanding officer, keeping him apprised of what was happening with junior sailors and non-commission officers.

“My primary duty on the Romeo helicopters during this phase was the regular maintenance that is required after every 200 hours of use,” he said.

“We have to inspect the aircraft and undertake any work that may be required.

“Being able to see how the US, which already has a number of these aircraft in operation, undertake their procedures was a great advantage.

“We have been able to combine that with what is required by the Australian Defence Force.”

He said at least five service operations had been carried out on the aircraft since returning to Australia.

“We have stepped off very well with the introduction of this capability,” he said.

“It is an exciting time to be involved. These aircraft will be around for the next 30 years and without doubt they got it right. It is an exciting capability.”

Now based in Canberra working in the Aviation Technology Category,  WO Davis is responsible for looking after aviation technology training for ATO and ATV staff to ensure they get the training needed to be able to produce the capability navy requires.

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