Principal Air Chaplain Mark Willis
Principal Air Chaplain Mark Willis was appointed to the RWTF Board as Chair of the Board on 6th February 2018.
In April 1991, Mark was commissioned as an Army Reserve Chaplain and began Chaplaincy with an appointment as the Unit Chaplain to 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry) and then to No. 6 Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR). Whilst posted to 2/14 LHR Mark won the Prince of Wales Award.
In October 1996 Chaplain Willis resigned his commission with the Army to be appointed to the Permanent Air Force as Chaplain, and following Initial Officer Course was posted to RAAF Base Williamtown.
Postings saw Chaplain Willis take his family to East Sale; Tindal; 1 Recruit Training Unit, Edinburgh; Butterworth in Malaysia; Williamtown; Williams; Canberra; Glenbrook as Director Chaplaincy – Air Command, and to the Command Chaplain position within Joint Health Command located in Canberra.
Between 2003 and 2016, Chaplain Willis deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) on Operation Catalyst; Phuket, Thailand for Operation Tsunami Assist; Kandahar, Afghanistan on Operation Slipper; to Operation Pakistan Assist II; MEAO on Operation Slipper as the Senior Theatre Chaplain; and on Operation Okra in support of the Air Task Group.
In December 2017 CHAP Willis was advanced to Principal Air Chaplain and appointed Director General Chaplaincy – Air Force (DGCHAP-AF).
Principal Air Chaplain Royce Thompson
Th. L. (Ridley College, Melb Uni), Grad Dip Ed (SA Uni), Cert Computer Business App (EGCC of TAFE), Cert 4 in Training and Assessment (East Vic Workforce RTO), Grad Dip Adv Chap Cse (US Navy, NETC, RI, USA ), MA (Hum Devel spec Org & Mgt) (Salve Regina College, Newport, RI USA ), DMin (Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena CA, USA).
Principal Air Chaplain Thompson was appointed to the RWTF Board on 14 May 2000. He served as Deputy Chairman of the Board from 8 September 2000 to 10 January 2002 and then as Chairman of the Board until 15 October 2008. After 20 years of service as a Trustee, Principal Air Chaplain Royce Thompson resigned at the conclusion of the Board meeting held 26 May 20.
In 1982 Principal Air Chaplain Thompson commissioned as a Chaplain, in the Australian Regular Army and assigned to 6 Battalion, Airborne Infantry, in Qld. He transferred to the Air Force in 1986. In 1988, he was posted to the US Navy Chaplains School, at the US Navy War College, in Newport RI USA. He graduated from the Advanced Chaplains Course Class of 1989 and completed a Master’s Degree at Salve Regina University. He was promoted to Chaplain (Wing Commander) in 1994 and Chaplain (Air Commodore) in 1996 when he assumed the post of Command Chaplain for Logistic and Training Commands. From 1997 until 2002 he was the Director General Chaplaincy Services Air Force in Canberra. In 2002 he was awarded a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. In 2004 he retired from the Permanent Air Force and moved to the RAAF Specialist Reserve.
Principal Air Chaplain Thompson retired from the RAAF Specialist Reserve in October 2018.
Beyond Defence he has an interest in Rural and Remote ministry serving on the Federal Executive of Bush Church Aid (BCA) and Chair of their NSW /ACT Regional Committee. From early 2007 he has been appointed by BCA to work with the Archbishop of Sydney and the Provincial Bishops of NSW on a Strategy for the support of the Church affected by Climate Change in the Province of NSW. He now works for BCA seeking to develop their ‘Open Gate’ Program. He is currently serving on the Boards of The Bush Church Society Aid, Dunorkney Nominees Pty Ltd and Thompson Pastoral Care Pty Ltd.
Air Commodore Sue McGready, CSC
Air Commodore Sue McGready was appointed to the RWTF Board on 13th August 2018 and resigned from the Board on 31 October 2019.
Air Commodore McGready hales from Brisbane and joined the Royal Australian Air Force on 16 January 1987, commencing studies at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). She graduated from ADFA with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Management in December 1989 and proceeded on her first posting to No 7 Stores Depot in Toowoomba. As a junior officer, she held the positions of Stock Control and Procurement Officer, Air Movements Officer Richmond, Supply Officer and then Operations Officer at No 1 Operational Support Unit, Supply Officer No 6 Squadron and Escort Officer to the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence.
Air Commodore McGready was promoted to Squadron Leader in January 2001 and was posted to Air Force Headquarters in Strategic Logistics Policy and the Directorate of Personnel Officers. As a Wing Commander, she served as the Executive Officer Cadets at ADFA, for which she was awarded a Vice Chief of Defence Force Commendation. She was also posted as the Deputy Director Supply Chain Development in Logistics Branch.
In January 2009, Air Commodore McGready was promoted to Group Captain and appointed the Director Supply Capability – Air Force. In January 2012, she was appointed the Commander Defence National Storage and Distribution Centre in Sydney, for which she received a Conspicuous Service Cross in the 2015 Australia Day Honours List. In August 2015, she was promoted to Air Commodore and appointed Director General Estate Service Delivery where she was responsible for all base services across all Australian Defence bases. In January 2018 she was appointed to her current position as Director General Defence Force Recruiting.
As a junior officer, Air Commodore McGready experienced operational service with the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOMII) as the Staff Officer Air in the Force Joint Movement Co-ordination Centre for which she received a Force Commander’s Commendation. She also deployed to Papua New Guinea as part of Operation PLES DRAI in 1998.
Air Commodore McGready is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Australian Command and Staff College and in addition to her Bachelor of Arts, holds a Graduate Diploma in Management (Defence Studies) and a Graduate Diploma in Management (Project Management). She was elected as a Director of the Logistics Association of Australia for 2011-2013. In 2015, she became a Member of the Royal College of Defence Studies after a year of study in London.
Group Captain Catherine Wallis
Group Captain Catherine Wallis was appointed to the RWTF Board on 15th June 2013.
Group Captain Wallis commissioned as a Legal Officer through the Undergraduate Scheme, and initially served at 322 Combat Support Wing, RAAF Tindal and Headquarters Combat Support Group, RAAF Amberley. She has served in a range of legal roles including Counsel Assisting the Board of Inquiry into a fatal Sea King crash; and a secondment to the US Army Center for Law and Military Operations in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she was responsible for developing legal lessons learned from operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
From 2008-2009 Group Captain Wallis worked with the United States Air Force at the Pentagon, Washington DC, for which she was awarded a United States Meritorious Service Medal. From 2012-2016 she was posted to Air Force Headquarters, initially as the legal officer advising the Chief of Air Force and Deputy Chief of Air Force; and later responsible for the promotion of Air Force through special events, community engagement and public relations, as well as the management of incidents, ministerial advice and freedom of information.
From 2017-2018 she served as Commandant RAAF College, responsible for all non-specialist training and education as well as the promotion of Air Force through the RAAF Band. She is currently The Director of Inquiries and Investigations at the Office of the Inspector General Australian Defence Force.
Group Captain Wallis has deployed twice on operations. In 2004 she was the legal advisor to the Air Component on Operation Catalyst (Iraq), and in 2013 she provided legal specialist advice to a number of inquiries into incidents in Afghanistan as well as conducting an audit of Australian detainee operations.
Group Captain Wallis holds a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws (Honours 1st class), Master of Laws, Master of International Security Studies and a Graduate Diploma in Military Law. She is a Legal Practitioner (ACT) and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Air Commodore Gerald van Leeuwen, AM, CSM
Air Commodore van Leeuwen was appointed to the RWTF Board with effect from 1 April 2017.
Air Commodore van Leeuwen joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1989 as a cadet at the Australian Defence Force Academy studying Aerospace Engineering before graduating and transferring to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology to complete his Bachelor degree. Early postings to RAAF Base Richmond involved supporting aerial delivery capabilities for Air Force fixed wing and Army rotary wing aircraft as part of the Air Mobility Training & Development Unit before being posted to the (now) Defence Aviation Safety Authority in Melbourne as a staff officer supporting ADF airworthiness regulation.
Returning to the Air Mobility Training & Development at Richmond as Chief Engineer in 1999, he first deployed to East Timor in October 1999, leading a specialist uncleared loads team in support of Army Aviation before being promoted to Squadron Leader in 2000. Before the end of 2002, he returned to East Timor twice more on aircraft recovery missions. Over this period he also led C130J role expansion activities during the aircraft’s introduction to service; efforts recognised with a Conspicuous Service Medal.
In June 2002 Air Commodore van Leeuwen attended Test Pilot School in California, USA, completing the twelve month intensive course as a ‘distinguished graduate’ and professionally qualified Flight Test Engineer. Three consecutive postings to the Aircraft Research and Development Unit followed, mainly involving fast jet (F/A-18 & F-111) flight test, culminating as the Air Force’s Senior Flight Test Engineer.
ir Commodore van Leeuwen was posted back to the USA to the F-35 Joint Program Office in 2007 on promotion to Wing Commander. During his time on the F-35 Program he was an integral part of the team that issued the initial flight clearances for each of the first flights of all three F-35 variants; contributions recognised with the award of a US Meritorious Service Medal. In 2011, Air Commodore van Leeuwen returned to Australia and took Command of the (now) Air Warfare Engineering Squadron at RAAF Base Edinburgh before being seconded by the Chief of Air Force and posted to Madrid, Spain late 2013 to successfully remediate problems and introduce the new tanker boom capability to Air Force.
On return to Australia in 2015, he attended the Capability Technology & Management College. In November that same year he was promoted to Group Captain and posted as the Project Director for Air Mobility and Tanker Projects (C-17A, C-27J and KC-30A).
In 2018, Air Commodore van Leeuwen was appointed as the inaugural Officer Commanding of the Air Combat Systems Program Office overseeing the arrival and introduction of the F-35A to RAAF Base Williamtown. He was promoted to Air Commodore in July 2019 and posted to into his current position as the Director General, Aerospace Combat Systems.
Over his career Air Commodore van Leeuwen has earned three post graduate degrees, graduated from the Company Directors program and served on a number of not-for-profit Boards while remaining a trustee of the RAAF Welfare Trust Fund. He was appointed as a member of the Order of Australia in 2020 for his exceptional service to the ADF in Aerospace Capability development, major Capital Acquisition and Air Combat sustainment.
Squadron Leader Allana Frank
Squadron Leader Allana Frank was appointed to the RWTF Board on 1 March 2014 and resigned on 30 June 2020.
Squadron Leader Allana Frank enlisted in the RAAF in 1985 as a Clerk Administrative and, since completing initial employment training has had a number of postings during her career. This included becoming the Warrant Office Senior Mustering Adviser for Personnel Capability Specialists in the A1 Directorate at Air Command.
Squadron Leader Frank has seen operational service in both East Timor and Iraq. She lists her career highlights as being part of No 6 Hospital, the first RAAF Hospital deployed in 2001/2 as the United Nations Military Hospital to East Timor. Another highlight was being deployed to Baghdad in the Force Logistics Element in 2005 and being in country for the first free election.
Squadron Leader Frank has been awarded the Australia Day Medallion in 2007 in recognition of her performance at No 3 Hospital and a Deputy Commander Joint Operations silver commendation in 2017 for her work in personnel and welfare.
Squadron Leader Frank was commissioned into the Personnel Capability Officer Specialisation in August 2014, with recent postings to Headquarters Joint Operations Command, Staff Officer - Commander Joint Agency Task Force – Operation Sovereign Borders and as Staff Officer Personnel 2 in Headquarters Air Warfare Centre.
Squadron Leader Frank transferred from the Permanent Air Force to the Air Force Reserve in September 2019 and remains at Headquarters Air Warfare Centre.
Squadron Leader Claire Milton
Squadron Leader Claire Milton was appointed to the RWTF Board on 1 April 2017.
Squadron Leader Milton joined the Air Force in January 2002, commencing studies at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). Following graduation from ADFA, she proceeded on her first posting to RAAF Base Edinburgh for a year of Professional Development & Training before moving to Williamtown to take on the role of Aircraft Maintenance Officer at 76 Squadron.
On promotion to Flight Lieutenant in 2009, she took on a team leader role within the Tactical Fighter System Program Office. Responsible for support to all aeromechanical systems on the F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet, she provided technical, logistical and financial expertise for the fleet of 71 aircraft. For her consistently high performance in this role and contribution to significant unit outcomes, she was awarded a Defence Support Services Commendation.
In 2013, she undertook a challenging staff officer role within the Surveillance and Control Group Headquarters, managing the Technical Capability and in-service support elements of P-3C Orion and E-7A Wedgetail aircraft. The following year, she posted to Canberra, taking the opportunity for a System Safety role within the P-8A Poseidon Project Office. During her tenure, she was promoted to Squadron Leader before taking on the position in charge of aircraft certification activities. For her contribution to the P8-A Poseidon Acquisition, she was awarded a Defence Support Services Group Commendation.
Squadron Leader Milton transferred to Service Category 3 in April 2019 and is currently employed as a Certification Manager within the C-27J Project Office.
Squadron Leader Milton’s qualifications include:
2013 – Advanced Diploma of Air Force Studies
2005 – Bachelor of Engineering with Honours – University of New South Wales
Warrant Officer – Air Force Robert Swanwick
Warrant Officer of the Air Force Robert Swanwick was appointed to the RWTF Board on 16 March 2016.
Warrant Officer Robert Swanwick joined the Air Force in 1979 as an Airframe Fitter and after his initial training courses, was posted to 2 Operational Conversion Unit, RAAF Base Williamtown to work on Mirage jets. Always looking for new opportunities, he remustered to Helicopter Crewman in 1982.
As a Crewman he enjoyed postings at 5 and 9 Squadrons and was deployed on operations with the Australian Multinational Force and Observers, flying missions along the border of Egypt and Israel. He was posted in 1989 to 5 Aviation Regiment to assist with the hand over helicopter operations to the Army.
Warrant Officer Swanwick was promoted to Warrant Officer in 1991 and since then has served in various aircrew positions and strategic, staff roles predominantly in Canberra. A highlight of his career during this time was being nominated by CDF and selected by Minister of Defence to serve as the Other Ranks Representative Trustee and Director on the Military Superannuation & Benefits Scheme Board which he held for 14 years. As a Trustee, he was a member of the Audit & Risk Committee and Chair of the Superannuation Communications Group, completed the Company Directors Course and many financial and investment courses. He transferred to Air Force Reserve in 2012 to focus on his family and as being owner operator of his café Deja Brew in Canberra.
After much encouragement from Air Force, Warrant Officer Swanwick returned to the Permanent Air Force in 2014 to take up the position of Group Warrant Officer - Surveillance and Response Group at RAAF Base Williamtown. Warrant Officer Swanwick was selected as the 8th Warrant Officer of the Air Force in July 2014. Upon completion of his tenure, Warrant Officer of the Air Force Swanwick transferred to the Air Force Reserve in February 2020.
Warrant Officer Swanwick currently holds the position of National Director, Veteran and Community Engagement, Open Arms within the Department of Veterans’ Affairs whilst continuing to serve Air Force Reserve in a limited capacity.
Warrant Officer of the Air Force Fiona Grasby, OAM
Warrant Officer of the Air Force Fiona Grasby, OAM was appointed to the RWTF Board on 20 December 2019.
Warrant Officer of the Air Force (WOFF-AF), Fiona Grasby joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as a Supplier in 1987 and remustered to RAAF Police in 1992 where her passion was well placed in the Counterintelligence and Special Investigations fields.
In July 1999 WOFF-AF Grasby was promoted to Sergeant and posted to 86WG as the SNCOIC Counterintelligence. Following the birth of her son in 2001 she transferred to the Active Reserves, however returned to the PAF in 2003 where she was posted to 386ECSS as the SNCOIC Special Investigations deploying to the MEAO in support of OP CATALYST.
In 2007 WOFF-AF Grasby was promoted to Flight Sergeant and posted to the Base Security Officer position RAAF Base Williams. During this time she was presented with a CAF Gold Commendation for
Leadership development and her commitment to emergency management. In January 2009 WOFF-AF Grasby was posted to RAAF Security and Fire School where she was appointed as the Course Director for the Physical and Protective Security Training Flight.
In 2012 WOFF-AF Grasby was selected to deploy as the 2IC of Force Protection and Security Section Multi National Base Tarin Kowt Afghanistan. During this deployment she completed the Regional Command South Female Engagement Team Course which ensured her commitment in providing security support to local women and children.
On return from deployment she was posted as the Deputy Security Officer position at No.2 Security Forces Squadron, RAAF Amberley. In April 2014 WOFF-AF Grasby was promoted to Warrant Officer and posted to the Security Manager position at 82WG. During this time she was deployed in support of the Australian Super Hornet capability to areas including; Singapore, USA, and OP OKRA Middle East Area where she was appointed as the Facility Security Manager for Air Task Group Strike.
WOFF-AF Grasby was appointed as the Air Command Warrant Officer on the 16 January 2018. On the 6 November 2019 WOFF-AF Grasby was promoted and appointed as the 9th Warrant Office of the Air Force.