John Adidi
Torres Strait Islands (Saibai Islan – Shark Clan)
Able Seaman MTP (Mechanical Technical Propulsion)
Royal Australian Navy

Australian Service Medal 1945-75 with clasp FESR (Far East Strategic Reserve)
Australian Defence Medal

I am of the Shark clan from Saibai Island in the Torres Strait and part of a proud family tradition of military service. The WW2 medals I’m wearing belong to my Father, the Late Sgt Waraka Adidi, who was the highest-ranking officer in the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion. Under an old Government Act, an Indigenous person was not allowed to go above the rank of a Sergeant. Dad has a military family, I served in the RAN, and my late brother, Sergeant Henry Adidi, served 20 years in the Army. His son Robert was in the British Army and served in three deployments in Afghanistan. Three of my grandsons are in the Army and one granddaughter joined the RAN. I enlisted in the Navy in November 1966 and served for 7 years in the category of Mechanical Technical Propulsion before discharging in 1973. During this time, I served at several shore bases, including HMAS Cerberus (Training – Melbourne), Kuttabul (Dry dock and maintenance – Sydney), Watson (Anti-submarine and radar – Sydney) and Penguin (Diving and fire fighting – Sydney).  I was also deployed at sea, including on active operations as part of the Far East Strategic Reserve (FESR), on a number of RAN ships: HMAS Melbourne (Aircraft carrier and RAN flagship), HMAS Sydney (Troop carrier – converted aircraft carrier), and HMAS Vendetta and Anzac (Destroyers), HMAS Stuart (Antisubmarine frigate), HMAS Diamantina (Oceanographic Survey) and HMAS Seal (Deep sea diving tender).

My shipboard deployments saw me visit many places in Australia and overseas, including Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, PNG and throughout the Pacific, visiting New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Nuie, Mawai, Kawai, the Marshall Islands and Cook Islands. As part of these deployments, our ships also visited the large US Navy 7th Fleet bases at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii and Subic Bay, in the Philippines. A sad moment at sea happened in 1969, during a SEATO exercise, my ship, the HMAS Melbourne (Aircraft Carrier), Flagship of the RAN, was involved in a collision with USS Destroyer Escort the Frank E Evans. Out of 250 American sailors, 72 lost their lives. It was one of the biggest disasters since the HMAS Voyager.

Other images of John Adidi

“That is me in TI 1969, dropped off HMAS Melbourne passing through Tl on Rec Leave from overseas.”

“I’m seated in the front right – Engineers on HMAS Stuart in 1970”