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Resident story: The many facets of Ron Boxall’s military career

TriCare pays tribute to our veteran residents over this Anzac Day period, honouring their courageous service by sharing their captivating stories of commitment, bravery and sacrifice.

Ron Boxall’s 31-year career as a professional army officer has many facets. His route into the Army was via the Officer Cadet School at Portsea in Victoria. After a demanding selection process, he entered the college in January 1959, straight after high school. The course was of 12 months duration and was fast-paced and demanded high standards in the classroom, on field exercises and in personal standards. Ron recalls it as a year where his feet barely touched the ground and describes it as the best possible “gap year” after high school for launching him into the adult world. He graduated and was commissioned into the Regular Army as a Second Lieutenant one month before his nineteenth birthday. His career progressed for 31 years until he left the army with the rank of Brigadier in February 1990. 

His service included two tours of operational service in Vietnam. In the first he was second-in command of an infantry company. For three months he was detached from his battalion to command a mercenary unit operating under the auspices of the CIA – which Ron described as an eye-opening interlude which showcased some of the counter-productive vagaries of our American allies’ approach to war fighting. For the duration of his second tour in Vietnam, he commanded an infantry company. 

Ron’s professional development included graduation from the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College and the Australian Joint Services Staff College. The latter included a foreign country study tour of China in 1982, as guests of the Peoples’ Liberation Army. He held several staff appointments in policy and doctrine development, and in military education and training. He was the Chief Instructor of the Army’s Infantry Centre, its largest instructional facility. He was also Director of Studies at the Army Command and Staff College and the first Director of Military Education and Training at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

His last two appointments were Commander of the 4th Military District, headquartered in Adelaide, then deputy to the head of Operations Branch within the Army’s headquarters in Canberra.

He says the great reward of serving with the soldiers and officers beside whom he lived, worked and fought, is membership of a group of closely bonded comrades who have maintained contact throughout the years. ANZAC Day is always a reminder of these lasting bonds with his “brothers-in-arms”, and the enduring anguish of the loved ones of mates who did not return home. 

In 1962, Ron married Joan, his former girlfriend from Toowoomba State High School. In the 62 years they have shared, they have acquired three children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. After postings through six capital cities and six regional cities, here and overseas, Ron and Joan are pleased to have settled down in their 25th  marital abode, in the supportive environment of TriCare’s Stafford Lakes Retirement Community; and among new friends, every one of whom has an interesting life-story to tell.

Learn more about Stafford Lakes Retirement Community, or book an inspection by calling (07) 3864 4500.