Port Kennedy mum Michelle Hale is part of a special family.
In April this year, her 19-year-old daughter Jennifer Hale signed up to join the Australian Navy, making her family the first in Australia to have five direct generations of veterans that have served their country.
The family’s military history spans two World Wars, the Vietnam War and The Gulf War.
“I was very surprised … the RSL told me they’ve come across families where it’s been an uncle or a cousin … or it’s gone from grandad to a grandchild [but] it hasn’t been direct descendants and a straight line,” Michelle said.
WATCH THE HALE FAMILY’S HISTORY IN THE PLAYER ABOVE
Michelle’s great grandfather John “Jack” Allen stormed the beaches at Gallipoli.
“Fortunately for him, I suppose, as he got off the boat at the landing he got shot in the leg. He survived and was brought back to Australia, but it stuffed his leg up and he always walked with a limp,” she said.
More than 7,000 Australians were killed during the Gallipoli campaign, and John Allen could have been one of them if it weren’t for his early exit.
“Thankfully he survived because then he met his wife, had kids and then the rest of our family started,” Michelle said.
John Allen also had an important role in WA’s history after the war. He created Allen Park, a nature reserve in Swanbourne designed to act as a buffer to help protect families housed at the SAS barracks.
John Allen’s daughter and Michelle’s grandmother, Beatrice Mary Allen, was a tiger moth mechanic in the RAAF based near Cunderdin during World War Two.
Michelle’s grandfather William John Hale also served during WWII, travelling the world as a gunner on small warships in the Navy.
Beatrice and William met after the war finished, married and started a family.
Their son Alan Hale served in Vietnam, preferring to sign up in 1968 rather than be conscripted for national service.
Alan’s service took a toll.
“They were part of the whole, getting spat on and that sort of stuff. So I know even when Dad left the army, the only time he’d march on Anzac Day was when he was in uniform, because they had to. But after he got out he refused to have anything to do with that,” Michelle said.
“It turned out Dad suffered really badly with PTSD (Post Traumatc Stress Disorder).”
Michelle said she remembered a violent childhood that she never understood until she was older, and met other children of Vietnam veterans.
“Now I’ve found out that what they’ve gone through, they definitely needed a lot more support than what they got when they come home,” she said.
Michelle is close with her father now and said after he started seeking help he was able to speak more about his service, and now marches in Anzac Day parades.
Michelle’s serving time was very different to her father’s, spending seven years in the navy.
She laughed that the reason why she didn’t join the army like her dad was because she didn’t suit the colour green.
“I thought, ‘Let’s try the navy’, so I gave it a go,” she laughed.
“My grandad was in the navy and was like, ‘Yeah, navy’s good. See the world’,”
Howver Michelle never left Australian shores,and didn’t serve during conflict. She said she struggled to feel proud of her service until opening up to friends, who told her that just the act of signing up to defend her country was brave.
“I am proud now, it took a while. I wear my one lonely service badge for Anzac Day now,” she said.
“I earned it, and like everyone says – you earned it, you wear it.”
This Remembrance Day, Michelle will be watching her daughter carry on more than 100 years of family tradition.
“She’s going to be in the cenotaph party for the Rockingham War Memorial, so I actually get to see her do her little bit,” she said.