Army veteran reflects on what Remembrance Day means to him

Published 5:00am 11 November 2023

Army veteran reflects on what Remembrance Day means to him
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

For retired Army Colonel Mick Mumford, Remembrance Day is an opportunity to pause and pay tribute to every Australian who has made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation’s freedom.

Observed every year at 11am on November 11, Remembrance Day marks the moment the guns of the Western Front fell silent in 1918 after four years of continuous warfare.

“Every year we pause to think about those who have served their country, and those who never made it back home,” Mick says.

“It is also an opportunity for us to think about the families who have been affected by war and other conflicts.

“We have lost more than 100,000 Australians due to wars and conflicts, and the number of family members who would have been personally affected would be in the millions.

“We think about the scale of the sacrifices made in WWI and WWII, and the impact the loss of so many young men and women had on our country at the time – it defined us as a nation.

“Thankfully, we have not had anywhere near that scale of loss in recent battles and conflicts, but we do still have families who are living that now. For whatever reason, they might have lost family members due to conditions that happened to them overseas, were killed in operations, or sadly took their lives later.

“That is why that minute silence is so important.”

Mick joined the Australian Army in 1986, three days after his 18th birthday.

“My family has a strong military history – my dad spent more than 30 years in the Air Force, his uncle was in the British Army in WWII, and my great grandfather was killed in WWI,” Mick says.

“My family’s history was a part of why I enlisted, but I was also seeking adventure and a way to see the world.

“I was 18 and looking for ways to test my boundaries, and I thought the Army would be a good place to do that.”

Army veteran reflects on what Remembrance Day means to him

Mick completed three years at the Defence Force Academy in Canberra and one year at Duntroon. After graduating as an officer, he became a paratrooper.

During his 34 years of service, Mick was posted to multiple places across Australia, and completed six deployments overseas.

He commanded infantry soldiers at platoon, company, and battalion level, including a battlegroup of 930 soldiers in Timor Leste, for which he was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross. His other operational deployments included border protection in the Torres Strait, peace monitoring in Bougainville, election support in PNG, active service in both East Timor and Afghanistan, and domestic support in the COVID-19 Taskforce.

He also spent two years living and working in America alongside the United States Marines.

“You generally join the Army because you want to make a difference, and the best place to make a difference sadly is where things are the hardest,” Mick explains.

“The second time I was sent to East Timor was in 2006. There had been an uprising so when we arrived, it was clear to see this was a country in crisis.

“All of the streets were empty, schools were closed, there was no medical support… nothing. A lot of people had run to the hills out of fear and oppression.

“Before we left, my battle group, which had about 900 people from 25 different units, managed to solve a lot of the violence problems.

“The moment I realised we had truly made a positive difference was when kids returned to schools and all the church services restart.

“While we were there, I can honestly say it became a much safer place then before the rebellion.”

After retiring in 2020, Mick and his wife moved to Scarborough, where he joined the Redcliffe RSL. In 2022 he was elected to the Redcliffe RSL Board.

Mick has five daughters, one of whom followed in his footsteps and also joined the Australian Army.

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