Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 7 2009 Contents ommodore (cDRe) Mark
Purcell is ADfA's first
graduate to achieve one-
star status, a milestone
achievement for both the
institution and the man.
After joining ADFA in 1986 following one year
at Naval College, CDRE Purcell graduated with
a double degree in Electrical Engineering and a
Bachelor of Science, majoring in computer sciences.
"I have no doubt that ADFA is very different
today to how it was back when I was there," CDRE
"There was definitely a large Army presence in
the early days but when we came in, things started
to be re-balanced.
"I did have to fight pretty hard to do my double
degree in computer science and engineering which
is certainly not the norm now, but the fact that I was
able to do this gave me the ability to dual stream in
IT and engineering for the rest of my career.
"ADFA gave me a really strong blend of
challenges and recognised academic qualifications.
"There were definite advantages in the
adventure training and service sports that I competed
in and my interest in the area was definitely sparked
while at ADFA," CDRE Purcell said.
AIRCDRE Staib congratulated CDRE Purcell and
said that ADFA had come of age now that graduates
were achieving senior rank in the military.
"Due to the need to serve time in rank, naturally
it takes a while to achieve one-star rank. Because
we don't laterally recruit like other industries, to get
to the top you have to start at the bottom,” AIRCDRE
"You can't just apply to be a Commodore, you
have to do your time and work through the ranks."
The future leadership of the ADF certainly
looks secure with many talented ex-ADFA
cadets approaching senior ranks.
"We have a lot of very talented people
reaching senior positions that have been
cadets at ADFA so the future is looking
very bright indeed," AIRCDRE Staib said.
defence magazine ›
By Leila Daniels
ADFA congratulates its first
by one measure, the promotion of
commodore Purcell means, for the
ADf, that ADfA has come of age.
Since ADFA’s inception in 1986, the Academy
has graduated 5053 people for service in the ADF,
and other international militaries including Cambodia,
Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand and Singapore.
Of these graduates, Commodore Purcell
achieved one-star military rank within 23 years
of ADFA’s inception.
In contrast, Australia’s senior military
institution, the Royal Military College, Duntroon
(RMC), which was established in 1911, was unable
to produce a graduate above the rank of lieutenant
colonel until the Second World War. In 1939, on
RMC’s 28th anniversary, 24 Army graduates had
been promoted to lieutenant-colonel, although only
10 of these were substantive in the rank at the
outbreak of the war. By 1945, RMC Army graduates
were commanding corps and divisions and had
been filling these posts for some years; three were
temporary lieutenant-generals, 17 were major-
generals, and some 50 had reached brigadier.
For the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
graduates of RMC, in August 1939, the highest ranking
officer was wing commander. By May 1945, RAAF
RMC graduates accounted for five air commodores.
In 1913, the Royal Australian Naval College
(RANC), which in 1958 was named HMAS
Creswell, accepted the first two entries of cadet
midshipmen. The first graduation from the RANC,
in 1916, included Midshipmen John Collins and
Harold Farncomb, both of whom were appointed to
Commodore in 1944, Collins in June and Farncomb
in December. In Commodore Mark Purcell’s own
service, the RANC had been established for 31
years before producing RAN graduates at the rank
Interestingly, Joseph (Joe) Hewitt, who
transferred from the RAN to the RAAF in 1928,
was the first one-star graduate of the RANC.
Hewitt entered the RANC in 1915, graduating
in 1918. Hewitt was seconded to the Royal
Australian Air Force in January 1923, and in
April 1928 transferred permanently to the RAAF.
He was promoted to Air Commodore
in February 1943 and appointed Air Officer
Commanding No. 9 (Operational) Group in the
New Guinea area in February 1943, which at
the time was the largest and most important
operational command in the RAAF. Hewitt’s
promotion to one-star pre-dates that of Collins
by more than 12 months.
What does commodore Purcell’s
promotion mean for the ADf?
By Colonel Chris Field
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