By LORRAINE JIMAL
FROM a deck hand to a lieutenant commander in the navy, John Baira Gabo Guli has been through it all.
He is from Halmet village in the Oriomo Bituri local level government of South Fly district, Western.
John, 69, was the first PNG citizen to join the Australian navy when he was only 17 years old.
He is married to Hedwig Eluh Kero of Sough village in the Andra Kurti local level government of Manus. They have three children – two girls and a boy. They adopted another five children.
He began his education at the Tennitony Primary School on Daru Island in 1958 and completed secondary school at Sogeri Secondary in 1966 before joining the Royal Australia Navy.
John was the first PNG engineer to serve in Royal Australia Navy for four years and later worked as a commanding officer at the Lombrum naval base in 1985.
He was privileged to be trained in Vietnam with the Royal Australia Navy. He also served in Vanuatu and Bougainville during the crisis.
He worked as a deck hand before being promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander.
It all started in 1964 when John joined the military in what was the beginning of his interest in military life.
John won a scholarships to continue his training on navy fleet maintenance on Grader Island in Sydney, Australia.
His training revolved around the ships.
He was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant in November after completing his training and posted to Lae after a six-month operation in the Bougainville waters.
He returned in 1976.
“ The best you can do is be honest, have faith in yourself and make right and wise decisions. Never lie to your bosses. Never ask for a promotion to be given to you on a golden plate. Work for it.”
He later worked as a commanding officer at the Murray Barracks before being promoted to director technical service in the logistics branch of the defence force.
His administrative duties included controlling the movement of vehicles, weapons, repair and maintenance of all the mechanical equipment, command and control technical officers and other ranks.
He also took care of the technical trade training, civil education training officers. He also worked with other governments and private organisations.
In 1982, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and retired after the completion of his service to the country in 2002.
He spent 36 years working as an engineer and administrator in both war and peace times.
John was awarded medals for his long service in the navy, good conduct, Vanuatu campaign, Australian defence medal, Australian service medal and Logohu medal for service to the people of Western.
His success was due to his commitment to the navy and his family.
His advice to young men is that they will face many challenges as they sail through life, social problems, marital issues, spiritual encounters and so forth.
“The best you can do is to be honest, have faith in yourself and make wise decisions. Never lie to your bosses. Never ask for a promotion to be given to you on a golden plate. Work for it. Have faith in God and believe in your tradition and culture.”
And he has secret for long life.
“Always and eat garden food to live longer. I will live for another 50 years.”