A career full of opportunities

Major Stephen Ware was awarded two Federation Stars in April after nearly 50 years of service, which he said ostensibly provided him three careers in Army.

CAPTIONMajor Stephen Ware, right, is presented with two Federation Stars by Major General Gregory Novak at Gallipoli barracks, Brisbane. Story by Captain Cody Tsaousis. Photo by Private Alfred Stauder.

Enlisting in 1977, Major Ware served 27 years as a junior rank through to Regimental Sergeant Major, before commissioning and spending 20 years – so far – as an officer.

In those 47 years, Major Ware has completed a lot of postings and seen a lot of change, particularly in the Signal Corps, where he’s spent most of his time.

“I joined during the analogue era, certainly pre-digital, and it was during the great peace so there were no major operations happening overseas; just minor peacekeeping opportunities,” he said.

“It was only towards the end of my time as a regular soldier that Australia got involved in East Timor and begun to be deployed overseas in greater numbers.

“Of course since the late 1990s, we’ve been on operations pretty much constantly in different regions of the world.”

A self-proclaimed ‘pipsqueak’ – when he enlisted at 17, he had to overcome a lack of height and weight to join – Major Ware became renowned for being an elite runner, excellent touch football player and all-round sport enthusiast.

He once trained 1 Signal Regiment so well that they went from last out of 18 in the 1st Division Military Skills competition the year before he arrived, to winning it under his command in 1990.

Someone who can attest to his mentoring skills is Commander of Space Command Major General Gregory Novak.

He met then Warrant Officer Class Two Ware in 1996 as a freshly graduated lieutenant at 139 Signal Squadron, and he credits him with teaching a level of work rate and professionalism that he has carried with him ever since.

“It would be difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the amount of people across Defence who have had a positive experience and are better in terms of their service for having served alongside Major Ware,” Major General Novak said.

“How fresh the memories are of working with him speaks to how significant of an impact he had on me. He is the epitome of professionalism, the epitome of small-team leadership and always a positive influence.”

The Federation Star recipient’s passion for readiness and high standards affected everyone around him, with Major General Novak saying the quickest he ever ran a fitness test was while he conducted physical training under Major Ware’s guidance.

Major Ware said the main reason he stayed in the Army for so long was opportunity.

“What’s kept me around is the people that I get to work with, and being able to do different jobs, whether that be a Regimental Sergeant Major or an Officer in Command of a signal squadron,” he said.

“It’s a great organisation and it’s really looked after me, and I’ve basically managed to have three careers within the Army, which isn’t something you can do in many other workplaces.”

Throughout his career, Major Ware’s operational service included (Operation Catalyst (Iraq), Operation Slipper (Afghanistan), Operation Queensland Assist (Tropical Cyclone Debbie), Operation Parapet (G20 summit), Operation Atlas (Gold Coast Commonwealth Games) and Operation COVID-19 Assist.

His awards include the Australian Defence Medal, Iraq Medal, Australian Active Service Medal with Clasp Iraq 2003, Afghanistan Medal, Clasp International Coalition Against Terror to the Australian Active Service Medal, National Emergency Medal with Clasp and the Returned from Active Service Badge.





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