Glen Ferrarotto - 9/11

Running time
4 min 19 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


I guess it's one thing to join the Army and join the Defence Force, right? But there must be an inherent drive in all of us that we want the opportunity to serve our country on operations. And whether it's through family's service or whether it's through watching too many movies, who knows? But it was the opportunity that still existed that kept us driven and wanting to train harder and take the opportunities ahead of us.

You wouldn't sit there hoping for something to go wrong but I distinctly remember the Defence Force's whole attitude and culture changed on September 11 and I remember being in a training environment back down at Latchford Barracks in Albury, so I was posted to Darwin at the time or was I in Brisbane? I can't recall but I remember waking up, I was in a training environment and none of us really... We didn't really have too much idea about world politics or anything going on at the time. There was a few things going on at the time, so Timor was rotating in and out but it was no big deal.

Well, at the time anyway, obviously it had its moments. But my sister rang me early in the morning that the news broke in Australia about what had happened in America and my sister's a pretty passionate person, and she was in tears and I thought what's happening? She said, "The planes have flown into the building," and I thought... Because we didn't have a TV, I thought, what are you talking about? I thought, oh, maybe a Cessna's hit a building or something and that's all I could think of.

Then there was just this mood around the barracks, people had started to see what had happened and learn and then we went into where we were supposed to be on parade but that was canceled and we were brought into another room where the TVs were on and I think we all sat there just for hours, just staring at the screen. We didn't do any training that day, we just sat there thinking "Holy shit, what's about to happen?" Because none of us knew what that meant but the environment changed immediately.

So they put armed soldiers on the front gates at Bonegilla Barracks, Latchford Barracks, which is the most... It has the lowest threat anywhere in the country, it's on Lake Hume, it's a holiday destination but they had guys with... Well, they didn't know what to expect. So yeah, the culture of the Army changed at that point. So then our service really became about the opportunity to go and do something about this threat that was likely to change the world, so it got real after that. So then you were just driven by the opportunity to go over there and do something about it.

People will always say, it's like training... You feel for the AFL players, they train all their lives to play in a Grand Final and the vast majority of them never get to do it, let alone win one. And I guess it's similar in a way, you do all this training and ultimately, you want to be able to tell your kids that you've served your country, so you're driven by that opportunity. So when you go through these scenarios... And a lot of people do.

I had my bags painted for Timor at one point when I was in Brisbane. So we were supposed to go to Timor and then they decided that they weren't going to take any mechanics over there. So all the other trades and everyone else left and we were stuck back in barracks. And then it happened again to me when they went to Iraq, so I was sitting there thinking, "Jesus Christ, am I ever going to get the chance?" And I was actually close to pulling the pin at that point and just walking away from it but I'm very glad I didn't because I went down to this unit and went into Special Operations and it all changed from there.

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