Gary Summers
Descendant of Kanaks from Pentecost Island (Grandfather) – Descendant of Aboriginal and South Sea Islands (Grandmother)
Retired Private
Royal Australian Infantry Corps
Australian Army

Australian Defence Medal
Anniversary of National Service 1951-72 Medal


I’m the youngest of 8, born in Mt Gravatt, Brisbane. My mother died when I was 2 ½. I was raised by a few people, mostly my sisters, Aunties and Grandmother. My schooling was limited to year 6. I was pulled out of school by my grandmother to work to make ends meet. Times were tough; you didn’t know when your next meal was. My Dad used to drink a bit and gave me a beating after getting into trouble for stealing.  But I still loved him so! Had several jobs, the last working the Cannery at Woolloongabba before I got called up. One day I came home to a letter from the Government, telling me that I was called up for the Army. This was a shock to my grandmother and me – I was only 19. I didn’t know how I was going to cope. My grandmother said, I’ll get you out of this, but this was bigger than us. I said, don’t worry Nan I’ve got to go, otherwise they are going to put me in jail. I was the only one out of all my brothers and cousins to be called up. Passed the medical in Brisbane, then was sent for recruit training at Singleton, NSW, and in 10 weeks we were ready to go to Vietnam. We were about to be deployed when the war was called off, so troops were sent to Lavarack Barracks, Townsville to finish out the two-year period. I was discharged at Enoggera Barracks, Brisbane and returned to my old job in the Cannery. I didn’t like it but the Army had opened doors for courses to obtain tickets for Plant Operator in Canterbury NSW. So, I applied for a job in the Brisbane City Council and worked for 45 years in that one job, till I retired recently. I was married previously, having two children, but now I’ve been happily married to my Jenny for 43 years. Married her five times and I have three children, ten grandchildren and one great grandchild.

I do lots of volunteer work including working bees to clean up Canungra Jungle Training Centre and at the Indooroopilly/Sherwood Sub-Branch where I visit those in aged care, do hospital visits to Veterans, drive the bus for day trips, speak at veteran’s funerals, do poppy selling, play music to entertain at monthly BBQs, and supply the sound system for Anzac Day.  A proud day was being present at the unveiling of the Indigenous Statue in Anzac Square in 2022. I’d like to see more Indigenous Veterans join. On the 24th of April every year, Uncle Vern, Uncle George and I go along with a few of the younger veterans to the Murri school and talk to the students about staying in school. They ask us questions and we share our stories and encourage them to just keep going and stay positive about their education, to make something of their lives – to make their mums and Dads proud. I am so proud of them, just like I am proud of my granddaughter, Emily, who became a Medical Doctor. She is the first one in our family to reach this level of education. Be proud to stand up and be counted.